A militancy stint that lasted 36 hours

A militancy stint that lasted 36 hours

Mohammad Rafi Bhat

His romance with the gun lasted just 36 hours as he was killed barely a day after joining the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

The involvement of Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor at Kashmir University’s (KU) Sociology department, with militancy began on Friday afternoon and ended after he was trapped within a cordon set up by security forces at Badigam in Shopian late on Saturday night. He was shot dead along with Saddam Padder, a top Hizbul commander, by security forces in southern Shopian district on Sunday morning.

Bhat, a resident of Chundina in central Ganderbal district, 20 km from here, had a doctorate in Sociology. He had also received the sought-after Junior Research Fellowship.

“He was a docile boy and for the last two years was teaching. On Friday, he left for prayers but didn’t return. I was in shock and disbelief when I heard the news about his killing in the morning,” a senior colleague of Bhat at the University told DH.

“He (Bhat) was behaving normal till he disappeared. No one had thought that he could take such a drastic step all of a sudden,” he said.

Bhat’s family had informed KU authorities about his disappearance on Saturday morning, following which protests rocked KU campus.

When Bhat got trapped in the encounter, he made a last phone call to his father. “I am sorry if I have hurt you and this is my last call as I am going to meet Allah,” the sociologist told his father, who recounted the conversation to police.

After police came to know about the conversation, they quickly sent a team to Bhat's father in Ganderbal asking him to convince his son to surrender.

The father, accompanied by his mother, sister and wife, started their journey from their home to the encounter site, some 80 km away. But soon after reaching Srinagar, 20 km from their home, they heard the news about Rafi’s end. The family returned to prepare for his funeral.

This is the first time in the last one-and-half decades that any faculty member of the Kashmir University has joined militancy.

Though in 1990s several university employees had links with militant groups, there is no record of anybody with a doctorate degree to his credit joining the militancy.

Two of the 33-year-old Rafi's cousins who turned militants had been killed in the early 1990s.

Even his father Fayaz Bhat, was an over-ground worker for a militant outfit in the early 1990s.