Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

Transformation of a shy boy to a radical: Family, friends search for answers

The house where Arif Ejaz Majeed lived. ( Source: Express photo by Deepak Joshi ) The house where Arif Ejaz Majeed lived. ( Source: Express photo by Deepak Joshi )
Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Kalyan | Posted: August 29, 2014 2:04 am | Updated: August 29, 2014 9:31 am

His family members recall his cherubic face, of a boy who was always shy and obedient, and who would even “greet passing fakirs”. They wonder when he became the man plastered across newspapers, as being one among India’s first bunch of terror exports to the conflict zone in the Middle-east.

Arif Ejaz Majeed, a 23-year-old civil engineering student, went missing in May this year along with three other youths from Kalyan. They were later reported to have joined Sunni insurgents’ group ISIS which has revolted in Iraq and Syria. On Tuesday, they got the news that shattered their world — about Arif’s death.

Saheem Farooq Tanki, who had also gone missing with Arif, called up his brother Farzaan on his cellphone using Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) and broke the news about Arif’s death. Investigating agencies have confirmed that Saheem was in Ar-Raqqah, also known as Rakka, an Iraqi city under ISIS control, when he called.

Arif’s family is yet to come to terms with the news, according to their friends.

Arif walked out of his house on May 24 evening, telling his parents he was heading to a friend’s place in Panvel to study. They never heard from him again. Ninety-six days later, his father Dr Ejaz Majeed offered Ghaibaana Namaaz-e-Janaaza (a funeral prayer offered for times when the body of the deceased is not found). He is still unable to decipher the tumult that was going on in his son’s mind.

Dr Ejaz, “like his son”, many said, is known in the community for being soft-spoken. According to neighbours, he draws tremendous respect from both Muslims and non-Muslims residing in the city. In a city where many speak about the fear of lurking into the locality of the “others”, Dr Ejaz was surrounded by members of the Hindu community on Thursday who had walked into his Sarvodaya Residency apartment in Govindwadi Colony offer condolences.

“We were surprised to hear reports in the media about the family. They all are so genial and well-behaved and so unlike anyone who would subscribe to militant ideas,” said a friend who stays close to where Dr Majeed’s dispensary is located.

Family friends claim the family always laid emphasis on good education while raising Arif and his three siblings. “The entire emphasis when it came to raising the children was to ensure that they got good education and imbibe good values,” a family friend said. Arif was sent to Old Lourdes English High School, a 76-year-old institution set up by missionaries and known to be one of the best institutions in the city. He is said to have been decent in academics.

“He was not exceptional but he was good at what he did,” said Faisal Tanki, a friend. All of Arif’s siblings had undertaken professional courses. His sister is a doctor, another continued…

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