Arif Dar, a young budding cricketer studying in Class 8 in a private school in Kakapora, left home on August 25, 2015, with Rs 70 and his cricket uniform in a backpack. Almost two years later, the 15-year-old returned home dead.
Dar alias Arif Lelhari, killed in the encounter with dreaded LeT militant Abu Dujana in Pulwama on Tuesday, was the youngest to have joined militancy at the age of 13. Hindustan Times had visited the family of the young militant last month as part of its series Lets Talk about Kashmir.
According to the family, Arif’s uneducated father always dreamt of giving him a good education. “He was studying in a private school (Evergreen private school) although we weren’t that well off,’’ his elder sister Saima said.
When Arif left home, according to police records, he was a few months over 13 years. He had told his family that his team was playing a match in Srinagar and he would be back. “We lodged a police complaint, as we though he might have been kidnapped. Even the police felt bad for us,’’ his mother Saja recalled.
The family said he was only interested in cricket and they were in for a shock when his gun-totting pictures appeared on social media. According to a police source, both Dujana and Lelhari were given an option to surrender but they did not budge.
While the family ruled out “surrender as an option’’ saying Arif was “working in the name of Allah’’, a few residents of the area questioned the handlers who induct young children in their ranks. However, thousands turned up to take part in his last rites.