SRINAGAR: A highly educated assistant professor on Sunday became the talking point of an encounter with security forces in Shopian area in which five terrorists were killed. He had just joined the wrong side a couple of days ago and came to be counted among the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen casualties.
Mohammed Rafi Bhat (30), who taught sociology at Kashmir University, had gone missing on Friday. Shortly before he was killed in the gunfight with security forces, he had called up his father and sought forgiveness for having gone astray. Rafi was awarded PhD in August last year.
Among those killed along with Bhat was top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Paddar. Also, five civilians were killed and over 80 injured in firing by security forces as protestors clashed with them near the encounter site.
Shailendra Mishra, Senior Superintendent of Police at Shopian, told The New Indian Express that police, CRPF and Army men launched combing and search operation in Badigam area of Shopian early Sunday morning after receiving information about the presence of a Hizb team, including Padder and Bhat there.The securitymen encircled a house, where the terrorists were holed up, and made repeated announcements through the public address system urging them, especially Bhat, to surrender.
However, the terrorists opened fire. “The fire was returned by the troops and in the ensuing firefight, all five Hizb men trapped in the house were killed,” the police official said.Paddar was part of a 11-member group of Hizb leader Burhan Wani, whose picture had gone viral on social media in 2015. Now only one member of the group, Tariq Pandi, is alive. He has reportedly surrendered before the security forces.