Ganderbal district in 2018, was the only district that did not witness any encounter, as the valley saw the highest number of deaths in more than a decade. 107 encounters took place in the Kashmir valley in which more than 250 Militants were killed.
On the morning on 05 May, amid these high intensity gun battles between Militants and Government Forces the last year, Mohammed Rafi Bhat made the news all over the major publications throughout the world. A professor of Kashmir University, Rafi Bhat had went missing two days ago, on 05 May he was trapped at an encounter site in Shopian. 5 Militants along with Rafi Bhat were killed.
Rafi was an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar for the last two years, A resident of Chanden Ganderbal district of Jammu Kashmir, Rafi had been shortlisted for the post of assistant professor at the University of Hyderabad recently.
Known as a brilliant professor among his students and colleagues, Rafi had topped the list of those who had made the cut in Hyderabad University.
The Ganderbal district was off map for the Government Forces till Friday evening, when a gun wielding photo another Local youth from the Nunar area of the District went viral on Social media. Identified as Rahil Rashid Sheikh son of a Government employee, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, Rahil had left home to purchase clothes for himself on Wednesday morning.
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“He collected some money from his family members and said he was going to purchase some clothes, however by sunset, he did not return, we tried to call him several times, his phone was switched off,” Asif, one of his cousin told The Kashmiriyat.
He said that one the very next day the family filed a missing report in the nearest Police station and on Friday, the family was informed that Rahil had joined Militancy. ”The news was not normal, it took everyone in the area by surprise, we were all shocked,” Asif said.
Rahil, as Asif remembers, was never arrested, he had no distant affiliation with Militancy or stone throwing, he was in a different league. “He loved to be photographed, he loved to go for trekking and visiting new cities, he loved camping,” his cousin remembers.
As per his cousin, Rahil was in second semester of Masters in Technology in a college in Kota while he had completed his Bachelors from Baba Ghulam Shah Budshah university in 2016.
Thousands of people from as far as Shopian District in South Kashmir on Sunday thronged Nunar area in Ganderbal amid high pitch pro Independence and Pro Islam slogans to attend the funeral of the Slain Militant who was killed in an encounter with Government Forces in Shopian’s Imam Sahib area.
“From the past two months, he recited Adhaan (Call to prayer) at the mosque, his voice was such that even the non believers would want to rush to the mosque and pray, he had Dawood’s throat and his voice would attract people from far areas to offer prayers here, he was a daily Muazzin (person who recites Adhaan) now,” Mohammed Yusuf another resident told The Kashmiriyat.
A good boy, Yusuf recalls, “sober and generous, he was very kind,” Yusuf told The Kashmiriyat. He added that Rahil was from a rich family and had no financial issues, he was doing well in his life.
The 23 year old Militant is survived by parents, a brother and two sisters.
Data released in 2011 by Government agencies stated that, in the last 21 years, 43,460 people have been killed in the Kashmir insurgency. Of these, 21,323 are militants, 16868 civilians and 5,369 policemen. Human rights Organizations have blamed both Indian security forces and Kashmiri separatist militants for human rights abuses.
“In 2018, 250 militants have been eliminated which is the highest in a decade. And even as 2019 began, we already have more than 50 militants neutralized, the Indian Army does not think there is a grave situation,” A high rank official of Indian Army said.
Since their partition in 1947, India and Pakistan, the Asian Nuclear powers have fought three wars claiming Kashmir in its entirety.