A professor with PhD in sociology and a top militant were among five Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state early on Sunday, local reports say.
Hizbul commander Saddam Padder, who was killed in the gunfight, was a close friend of the group’s former commander Burhan Wani shot dead in an encounter in 2016.
Mohammad Rafi Bhat was an assistant professor in sociology at Kashmir University. He went missing on Friday. Reports suggested that he had joined Hizbul terror group but his father Fayaz Ahmed Bhat insisted that Rafi would never pick up arms.
Bhat, who himself was connected to a terror outfit in the early 1990s, had been keeping a close watch on his son after he tried to cross over to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir at the age of 18 but was caught by the police and handed over to his parents.
Police were certain that Rafi had joined Hizbul group after his disappearance. They appealed to him to surrender. When their efforts failed, they requested Rafi’s family living in Chundana in Ganderbal to come to Badigam village where he was holed up along with Padder and other Hizbul terrorists.
Police thought Rafi and others might surrender if his family makes a personal appeal to him.
Security forces faced a crowd of protesters as they closed in on the hide-out of the terrorists in the wee hours of Sunday. Suddenly, the crowd started pelted stones at them to divert their attention and help the terrorists to escape.
The situation demanded quick action and in the ensuing gunfight, all the five Hizbul terrorists were killed. A soldier and a policeman were injured in the encounter. Security forces seized arms, ammunition and incriminating documents from the encounter site.
Rafi’s father, mother, wife and sister were on their way to the encounter site when they heard the news about his death. They returned home to prepare for his funeral.
Bhat told police that early on Sunday his son had called him to say he was sorry if he had hurt the feelings of family members by joining the Hizbul group. Rafi said he was making the last call and soon he would be meeting Allah.