He was fond of religious education and wanted to memorise Quran by heart but economic conditions at home forced Firdous Ahmad Mir of Begaam, Kulgam, to leave the seminary halfway and become an Imam (one who leads prayers in a Masjid) to support his family.
However, Firdous' support to family of six including his father, three unmarried sisters and two younger brothers – one disabled by his both legs – could not last long as he was slain in security forces' firing on a protest procession near Nellow camp on July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen Commander BurhanWani was killed. Nellow village is 5 kms away from Kulgam on Shopian road, where Army as well as CRPF is camped.
23-year-old Firdous had returned home on a seven days vacation after three months from Batengoo (Anantnag) – where he worked as Imam- to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with his family.
"Firdous left home early in the morning as he wanted to visit Tral to participate in Burhan's Jinazah," says his 19-year-old disabled brother, Shaheen Ahmad Mir. "But we don't know whether he had tried to go there or not but later we heard that he was part of the protest procession which was met by indiscriminate firing at Nellow camp. He received a bullet in his abdomen at around 10:30 a.m."
Shaheen says that people who were accompanying him said that they could not take Firdous to District Hospital Kulgam as forces at Chowalgam camp had been stopping all the vehicles including ambulances and were beating and harassing one and all including injured, who were being taken to hospitals.
"They instead took him to PHC Muhammad Pora, where he succumbed at around noon as he had been fired at point blank," he says.
Shaheen in Firdous' death has lost all the support, as he himself is not able to do any work due to his disability. "I am not able to understand how will my father now handle the situation. He has to marry off three daughters, take care of my younger brother and me. How will he be able to handle this all?" asks Shaheen.
Ghulam Ahmad Mir, 57, father of Firdous says: "Besides leaving back the burden of the family on my weak and aged shoulders, which he was ably taking care of, Firdous left me in eternal perplexity as I could not even see his body. I had gone to Budgam a day before, on some work, and as whole Kashmir shut down; telephone was banned, so no one could inform me. I got to know only after six days when I somehow managed to reach home."
"My son was very pious and religious. He had just completed Aetikaf before Eid and was again leaving to lead prayers in just few days, but alas! …" says Mir with moist eyes.
Firdous' handicapped brother says that a day before his death, on second Eid, while returning home after Maghrib (dusk) prayers he brought Dew (cold drink) and chips for all the siblings.
"When we were having the stuff together and also having some lighter moments, Baya said that he badly misses home when he is out and does not want to go again to the place were he was leading the prayers," says Shaheen, adding, "Now I don't know how badly he will be missing us there."