Kashmir University Professor Joins Militancy, Gets Killed In Encounter Within 40 Hours
“Aap baahar aajao…Firing bandh kardo, khuda ke vaaste kuch nahi milna isse… (Come out and surrender…Stop firing for god sake, this will yield nothing),” the newly-appointed Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district Shailendra Mishra was seen appealing to the trapped militants at the encounter site on Sunday morning.
But the appeal to surrender fell on deaf ears as five militants of Hizb-ul-Mujaheedin, including the ‘missing’ professor of Kashmir University, were killed by security forces.
The killing of these four militants was considered a big blow to the Hizb militant outfit. But what made news and raised eyebrows in Kashmir was the death of professor-turned-ultra Mohammad Rafi Bhat, whose militancy stint lasted not more than 36 hours.
Rafi, a sociologist professor at Kashmir University, had gone missing since Friday afternoon after giving a lecture on ‘Indian Society’ in the morning. He was perhaps the most educated militant the valley has seen in 27 years of insurgency. The assistant professor was a PhD scholar and an MPhil and Master’s degree holder. He has cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET) twice.
When a person goes missing in Kashmir, he is either assumed to be abducted or considered joining militancy ranks.
Although Rafi had gone missing since Friday afternoon, no one knew where he was – neither his family and friends nor his students.
Two days later, on Sunday morning, the news of the missing professor being holed up at the encounter site along with four other gunmen spread like a fire across the valley.
While Rafi chose death over surrendering, the 33-year-old made his last call to his father from the encounter site. He said: “I am sorry if I have hurt you and this is my last call as I am going to meet Allah.”
“When did you become a militant?” the astonished father asked his son, reported News18. 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.
Rafi was killed before his father, accompanied by his mother, sister and wife, could reach the encounter site to plead him to surrender.
Just 14 km after leaving their home, Rafi’s family got the news about his death and had to return back to prepare for his funeral.
Soon after the news of his killing spread, Rafi’s Facebook timeline flooded with messages from his students and well-wishers.
The post with the most number of reactions came from his friend Umesh Unni, who wrote, “I feel extremely bad because I too have his blood in my hand, we Indians have the bloods of thousands of Kashmiris in our hand, that will never go…RIP brother.”
One of his students, Irfan Ali Najar, who Rafi had promised to lend a book on ‘postmodernism’, wrote: “Who will lend me the book now?”
“I am in shock and cannot believe that you are no more. I remember your hugs, your greetings, your jokes and your lectures,” the post read.
In Kashmir, more than 45 youths have joined militancy ranks in last four months, which include MBA, MPhil, and even scholars from PhD background.
Condemning Rafi’s death, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “When educated and gainfully employed young men choose the path of militancy — it should serve as a wakeup call for those who have turned a deaf ear towards repeated pleas for initiation of dialogue with all stakeholders to find a solution to this quagmire,” reported News18.
He also tweeted about Rafi’s death in security firing.
Sadly this is also an answer to those who claim jobs & development are the solution to the violence & alienation in Kashmir. This is another tragic development in a steady stream of tragedies in Kashmir. https://t.co/MpMGifgVWi
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 6, 2018