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‘Sorry If I Hurt You’: Prof-Turned-Militant’s Last Words to Father

Mohammad Rafi Bhat was a 33-year-old contractual assistant professor in the Sociology department of the university.

Updated
India
3 min read
 Security personnel patrol a street in Srinagar on 1 April during restrictions imposed after clashes erupted following the killing of eight militants and two civilians in Shopian encounters. 
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The life of Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor at Kashmir University, as a militant lasted less than 36 hours as he was among the five militants killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir today.

Bhat's involvement with militancy began sometime late afternoon on Friday, 4 May and ended after he was trapped in a security forces cordon at Badigam in Shopian late night on Saturday, making him an ultra with possibly the shortest active time in militancy in the state.

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Bhat, a resident of Chundina area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, was a 33-year-old contractual assistant professor in the Sociology department of the university and a Ph.D in his discipline. He went missing around 3:30 pm on Friday.

He spoke to his mother the last time that day without giving any hint about his short-lived future plans.

Several youth, who joined the militant ranks in a wave following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, have had a short life with some of them getting killed within a fortnight.

Bhat's family informed university authorities about his disappearance Saturday morning, following which protests rocked the varsity campus over his disappearance.

The university's vice chancellor had met the protesting students and assured them that all efforts would be made to trace the missing professor.

He had also written to the Director General of Police, requesting him that all efforts be made to trace Bhat’s whereabouts.

However, this morning, Bhat was among the militants trapped in an encounter in Badigam village in Zainapora area of south Kashmir's Shopian district.

The encounter broke out after a cordon and search operation was launched by security forces following specific information about the presence of militants in the area.

Police said they brought Bhat's family from Ganderbal to persuade him to surrender, but to no avail.

Reportedly, Bhat is among the militants trapped there. After receiving the input about his presence there, we brought his family from Ganderbal to persuade him to surrender, but so far, repeated attempts have not materialized
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, S P Pani
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His Last Call to His Father

He was sorry if he had hurt his parents, the son told his father on the phone.

It was the first call of the day that Fayaz Ahmed Bhat received from his sociologist son – and the last ever.

Bhat was still bleary-eyed at his residence in Chundana in Ganderbal when his mobile phone rang early this morning, he told the police later.

It was his son Mohammed Rafi Bhat calling to bid farewell.

“I am sorry if I have hurt you,” Rafi told his father before he was gunned down in an encounter with security forces at Shopian in South Kashmir today.

The Jammu and Kashmir police, which was monitoring all calls from the encounter site, quickly got cracking and sent a police team to Bhat 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. But barely after reaching Bota Kadal, 14km from their home, they heard the news about Rafi's end.

The family returned home to prepare for his funeral.

The senior Bhat told the police about his last conversation with his son and indicated he was convinced Rafi would not be there to hear their pleas, asking him to surrender.

“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, who recounted the conversation to the police.

Reports had suggested he had joined the terror group but his father had repeatedly told the police Rafi would not pick up arms.

Fayaz Ahmed Bhat, who was an overground worker for a terror outfit in the early 1990s, had been keeping a strict watch on his son ever since he had attempted to move to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir at the age of 18 but was caught by the police and handed over to his parents.

Two of his first cousins were also involved in militancy and had died in the early 1990s.

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