SRINAGAR: Dr Muhammad Rafi had never given any hint of his inclination towards militancy, either to his friends and colleagues, or on his social media posts. “He was concerned about the day-to-day happenings in Kashmir Valley, but not hopeless,” said a colleague at Kashmir University who had met Rafi days before he went missing on Friday. “He had an Islamic bent of mind,” the colleague added. “He offered prayers five times a day. He would give his opinion on killings and state’s use of force, but never showed inclination towards joining militant ranks.”
In Rafi’s Facebook profile, the first line that introduces him says, “Human being first then a Muslim”. In the “Religious Views” section it says, “Islam”. In the “Political Views” section it says, “Khilafat ala minhaj e nabova”, the system of caliphate that Prophet Muhammad decreed. In the “Favourite Quotes” section are lines from Allama Iqbal’s poem on ‘Jihad’: “Futwa Hai Shaikh Ka Ye, Zamana Qalam Ka Hai/ Duniya May Ab Rahi Nahi Talwaar Kargar (The preacher’s dictum is thus: this age belongs to the pen, no more effective is the sword), “Taleem Usko Chahiye Tark’e Jihad Ki/ Duniya Ko Jis Panja’ei Khonain Se Ho Khatar (Educate him to relinquish Jihad from whose bloody fist the world is in danger)”, this last line pointing to Europe’s unbridled violence threatening the world.
The profile also has a couplet that Rafi credited to himself: “Mai samajta tha jahan mai bus mai he hue k parayshaan/ mai jis say be mila her ek ek daastan milli (I thought I was the only one distressed in this world/ Whomever I met, I found each to be a story in itself).”
The 33-year-old Rafi had completed his PhD in November last year and had qualified both the NET and JRF, making him eligible for teaching at a university and for a monthly fellowship up to five years for doing research.
His colleague at Kashmir University said that Rafi was an avid reader, inquisitive researcher, and humble teacher. “He would sit with students even after class to correct their mistakes,” he said. In one Facebook post, Rafi had tagged a student of his to a notice for PhD applications at Central University of Kashmir.
In another post, Rafi had thanked his school, college and university teachers for their support and inculcating the love for studies in him. He had warmly thanked the principal of Dastgeeri Public School, where Rafi had done his schooling, for attaching four students with him to make sure that he attended classes, something that Rafi wrote he had little liking for.
In another post, Rafi had questioned the state government order for its repeated closure of schools as a repression of dissent expressed through peaceful means.
In his last phone call to his parents, Rafi had apologised to his father. “I am sorry if I have hurt you,” he said to his father.
The police were monitoring all calls from the encounter site and when they heard Rafi apologising to his father, they quickly sent a police team to Rafi’s father to ask him to convince his son to surrender.
While Rafi’s father was on his way to the encounter site, he heard the news that his son had already been killed.