On 5th March this year, when Hizbul Mujahideen commander Auqib Moulvi was killed in a gunfight with government forces at Nigeenpora village of Tral, little was expected that his neighbourhood friend Fardeen would join the militant ranks and die nine months later. Born to a well-off family, Fardeen Ahmad Khanday (16), joined the militant ranks on 17 September 2017.
Before getting into militancy, he was a class 10th student at Iqra English Medium School in Mandoora, Tral.
Fardeen was killed along with his three associates after they carried out a pre-dawn fidayeen attack on a central reserve police force (CRPF) training centre in Lethpora area of Awantipora in Pulwama district on Sunday. The attack left five CRPF personnel and three militants dead.
Before the attack, Fardeen had purportedly recorded a video message which has now gone viral on social media.
In the eight-minute video, he talks about various attacks on security establishments in Kashmir and also indicated about the ‘proposed’ Lethporafidayeen attack.
Looking visibly composed, he says: “By the time this video reaches you, I would be a guest in heaven.”
Seated between three assault rifles and a huge cache of arms and ammunition including grenades, he urges Kashmiri youth and Muslims in India to “join the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant outfit.”
Calling Islam as the complete way of life, Fardeen says that “Jihad is a basic pillar of Islam besides ‘farz’ (mandatory) for a Muslim.”
The importance of Jihad increases when infidels occupy your land and threaten the modesty of our women, he says in the video.
Speaking in Urdu, Fardeen says that militancy has no connection with unemployment “as is being fabricated by New Delhi; it is rather a reply to Kashmir’s illegal control by India.”
In the end, Fardeen cites examples of Pathankot airbase attack, Pulwama police lines attack and hails the role of Maulana Masood Azhar, Muhammad Afzal Guru and others.
Son of a J&K police constable, Fardeen is considered as fourth militant at his native village Nazneenpora.
Before Fardeen, three HizbulMujahideen militants from Nazneenpora village were Iqbal Parray, ShabirBhat and AuqibMulvi, but except Fardeen, all were associated with HizbulMujahideen.
A police official in district Pulwama said that Fardeen is the first young local militant from Tral who was “motivated by slain Jaish commander Noor Mohammad Tantray for fidayeen attacks.” Earlier, only non-local militants were involved in such attacks, he said.
Locals at Nazneenpora remember Fardeen as young, gutsy and helpful boy.
Fardeen was elder among his siblings—his younger brothers include Faizan, his twin brother Tafeem, and Tanzeel. His father GhulamMohudinKhanday is a constable in Jammu and Kashmir police and his mother Wazeera a housewife, locals said.
Fardeen’s friends remember him as a pious and sober person.
“He hardly discussed politics or Kashmir issue with anyone, including his own friends. He was never part of protests or stone-pelting. He would offer prayers five times a day and sometimes he would go and lead prayers at a local masjid,” said one of his childhood friends.
“Initially, I could not believe that my friend Fardeen has joined militancy,” says his friend Shahbaz, adding that Fardeen remained “disturbed” after the killing of HizbulMujahideen commander AuqibMoulvi.
Fardeen was laid to rest next to Moulvi at the martyrs’ graveyard in Nazneenpora. As Fardeen was lowered into the grave, his friends could not control their emotions and broke down.
At Fardeen’s residence, everyone was in tears. Thousands of people visited the bereaved family to express their condolences. His mother, however, couldn’t be consoled by anyone.
According to Fardeen’s family, during last three months, he never called his parents.
“He even did not inform anyone about joining militancy. He always said that he wanted to be a well-mannered boy,” said his relative, Ali Muhammad Khanday.
“Fardeen is the Persian name which means protector of the people. I am sure our son will attain highest status in paradise and will take us along there,” he said and broke down.