Ever since the news of Kalyan youth Areeb Majeed’s death in the violence in Iraq, the families of Fahad Sheikh, Saheem Tanki and Aman Tandel have maintained a silent vigil near their telephones, hoping for news of their children.
The four young men from Kalyan, who have been missing since May this year, were all suspected to have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni extremist army that now calls itself Islamic State (IS). On Tuesday last week, Saheem called his family and informed them of Areeb’s death.
The family of Dr Ejaz Badruddin Majeed told The Indian Express that their son who left home in the end of May and has been believed killed in the fighting in Iraq, was called Areeb, and not Arif, the name used in both police records and in the online tribute to him published by Ansar ul-Tawhid, the Indian jihadi group believed to be active along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
While the families of the other three boys have been rallying around Areeb’s father, Dr Ejaz Majeed, they, at the same time, cannot help but feel pangs of worry for their own children, all of whom have been out of touch since Saheem’s call on Tuesday.
“We have all been waiting for one of the boys to call, as we have many questions and many concerns. All we can do is stay near the phone and wait,” said Fahad’s uncle Iftikhar Khan.
The boys always call using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) facility and never use the same number twice. Intelligence agencies traced Saheem’s last call to Ar-Raqqah, also known as Rakka, a city in Baghdad, which is currently the headquarters of the ISIS. “Saheem always calls on his brother Farzaan’s cellphone and ever since his last call, we have been waiting for an unfamiliar international number to flash on his phone. His mother can not stop crying,” said Saheem’s uncle, Kashif Tanki.
Aman’s father, Naim Tandel, could not be reached for comment.
Since Tuesday, a member of at least one of the three families makes sure that they visit Dr Majeed at his residence and spend time with him. The three families have been juggling a dual role of expressing solidarity and support with the aggrieved father, as well as dealing with their own worries
People who visited Dr Majeed on Saturday described him as ‘a broken man’. “He had already lost a lot of weight since Areeb went missing. Now he looks worse,” said a family friend.