Assistant Professor’s short-lived militancy stint

The life of Mohammad Rafi Bhat, as a militant lasted less than 36 hours as he was among the five militants killed in Sunday’s encounter.

Rafi’s involvement with militancy began sometime late Friday afternoon and ended late on Saturday night, making him an ultra with possibly the shortest active time in militancy in the state.

Rafi, a PhD in sociology, was a contractual assistant professor in the Sociology department of Kashmir university and 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.

Rafi’s family informed university authorities about his disappearance on 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 Rafi’s whereabouts.

However, on Sunday morning Rafi called his father on his mobile phone to bid farewell. He was among the militants trapped in an encounter in Badigam village in Zainapora area of Shopian. The J&K police, which was monitoring all calls from the encounter site, quickly got cracking and sent a police team to the family to convince their son to surrender. The father, accompanied by his mother, sister and wife, reached Bota Kadal, 14 km from their home, only to hear the news of Rafi’s end. The family returned home to prepare for his funeral.

The senior Bhat later told the police about his last conversation with his son and indicated he was convinced that 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,” he had told his father.

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 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.