Kashmir: It was a sombre Sunday evening Chunduna village of Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district when thousands of mourners along with dozens of students sat in a line waiting for the dead body of professor Mohammad Rafi Bhat.
Rafi, 32, was among the five militants killed on Sunday morning in Badigam village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. The clashes that broke during the encounter and afterwards left five civilians dead as well, and more than 50 people injured, according to police and doctors.
“More than a teacher he was a friend and a guide,” Malik Abdul Momin, a Master’s student from the Sociology Department of Kashmir University, was reported sayin while talking to an English daily. Last Friday morning these students had gifted, Rafi, an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology in Kashmir University, a wristwatch after he informed them that he was leaving the varsity for another assignment in Hyderabad.
The professor’s death and his decision to join militancy have left the family members and students devastated.
At 7.30 am on Sunday, Rafi’s father Abdul Rahim Bhat received a call. It was his lecturer son on the other side.
last words from Rafi:
“I am sorry if I have hurt you and this is my last call as I am going to meet Allah,” Rafi told his father. Rahim was taken aback when his son told him that he was trapped with other militants in Badigam village deep south in Shopian district.
“When did you become a militant?” the astonished father asked his son. The call got disconnected. He received another call, this time from the SSP of Shopian, asking him to come to Shopian to try to motivate his son to surrender.
The surrender did not happen.
Rafi’s father Abdul had kept a close watch on his son after two of his cousins — one in 1991 and another in 1993 — died trying to join militancy. He said he did everything to give his children a good education.
Rafi did his PhD in 2017 on globalisation and emerging trends in consumerism: comparatives Study of rural and urban Kashmir. Before the degree was even awarded, he was offered a job at Kashmir University.
At least 114 people have been killed in militancy-related violence in the Valley in the first four months of this year. Among them, 53 were militants from Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, 33 civilians, 14 policemen, 13 army men and one BJP worker.