Fahad Shaikh’s sister Nida Fazeel wants to speak with him once, tell him that he is now an uncle. Aman Tandel’s parents want him to come back soon.
A day after The Indian Express reported on an Islamic State (IS) video, purportedly showing Aman, among others, IS video opens old wounds in Mumbai families threatening to avenge the “killings of Muslims in Kashmir, Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar”, the wait has got longer for the families in Kalyan, a suburb of Mumbai.
“How can they think of returning now? See what happened to Areeb,” said Nida.
Areeb Majeed, one of the four youths from Kalyan who had left for Syria in 2014, purportedly to fight for the IS, returned in November that year. He is being prosecuted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
At Aman Tandel’s house nearby, where the news of the IS video trickled in by Saturday afternoon, there was palpable anger in father Nayeem Tandel’s voice. Tandel senior said he could not do anything about the actions of his only son, an electrical engineer. He refused to comment further.
The Tandel household does not have a television set. An acquaintance informed the family about the video after the afternoon prayers on Saturday. The parents have not seen the video yet but have identified their son from the photograph, said an acquaintance. (The Indian Express report on Saturday had inaccurately identified the photograph as that of Fahad Sheikh.) The acquaintance said Aman was in touch with his family over the phone until the end of last year. “They (the parents) asked him to come back but Aman spoke of Areeb Majeed’s arrest and refused to return,” he said.
Since May 2014, Aman’s parents have relocated twice, selling a flat in Govindwadi which had “Aman Nayeem Tandel” on the nameplate.
On Saturday, both families said they had not been approached by the NIA regarding the latest video.
Fahad, who graduated in mechanical engineering, has four sisters and a younger brother. As the family attended the funeral of a neighbour on Saturday, talk about the IS video and their elder son was avoided.
After he completed a short course in piping and fitting air-conditioners, Fahad had been searching for a job before he allegedly joined the IS. Along with Aman, civil engineer Areeb Majeed and Saheem Tanki, who had cleared Class XII board exams, Fahad left home in May 2014, purportedly for Syria.
Nida said their father, Dr Tanveer Shaikh, could not go to his clinic for the first six months. His practice, she said, is now “back to normal”. “I want to tell Fahad about my daughter — she is nine months old,” she said.
In the Shaikh household, only Fahad had a passport — made when he was checking various avenues for a job.
While Areeb Majeed returned in November 2014, Saheem allegedly died in a bomb attack last year. At Saheem’s house, his mother still does not believe he is dead, although other family members have gradually come to accept it.
In the video released by the IS, Aman is shown as purportedly paying homage to Saheem.
A man who identified himself as Saheem’s uncle, requesting anonymity, said, “We keep a check on Urdu papers because his mother reads only Urdu. If there is any mention of Saheem, we hide it from her.” The family still has not held a funeral for Saheem, who was 23 at the time. “Not until his mother accepts it,” said the uncle.
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