by Faiqa Masoodi
SRINAGAR: Humayun Muzamil Bhat, 34, one of the three officers and a soldier killed in the Hallpora Gadole forests of Kokernag had made a call to his wife asking her to take care of their 42-day-old son, informed sources said. He had also talked to a friend and various family members and colleagues on the phone after being hit. Two other officers slain in the skirmish include Colonel Manpreet Singh and Major Ashish Dhonchak of 19-Rashtriya Rifles.
On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of people visited a distraught father, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, who retired as DIG (later IGP) in 2018, after a long career in the Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP). His 10 steps for laying the floral wreath on his son’s coffin at the District Police Lines, Srinagar, were the heaviest of his life.
For the Bhats’ of Tral, destiny has been crafted with a twist. On February 28, 2018, the father superannuated and hung his boots. Son Humayun joined the police force on February 21, 2018, almost a week ahead.
“I asked him (the day he figured in the JKAS list) you will likely get police, which is unlike you, given your quiet and introverted nature,” one of his mentors told Kashmir Life. “He said, the police are my legacy. God has chosen me to carry it forward.” At the time of confirming post-probation, one officer said the panel grilled him 40 minutes and he was logical and convincing in whatever he was asked.
Barely three postings later, he left leaving behind his 42-day-old son, an orphan. Post probation, he served at Pattan, later moved to Cargo and was posted in Kokernag in June.
After being hit in a Gadole forest gorge, an informed police officer told Kashmir Life that he had made a video call to his wife. “I am hit, please take care of VVV (son’s name redacted),” one police officer, who met the slain officer’s clinical-psychologist wife said.
“He was in touch till 3 pm,” one officer said. In fact he had talked to his father as well who had suggested him to roll down from the hillock. Humayun had responded: “I can’t move. I cannot move my legs.”
A close family relative said the couple had pre-booked a cake for September 27, when their first marriage anniversary would fall. Well before that Humayun, an erstwhile sketch artist, fell in the line of duty. It is now mourning, the fourth day and a perpetual gulf and no reason for any celebration.
Though hundreds of people went to Humhama to condole “Bhat Sahab’s son”, Humayun had started creating his own image. “A Burn Hall student, he was a topper in tenth, twelfth and was too shy and too disciplined,” one of his seniors, who knew him earlier, said. “He was in a way bookish, brought up in strict discipline and was someone who can never resort to mischief, whatsoever.”
In the police also he was Bhat Sahab’s son. “He would carry the burden of his father’s legacy,” one senior officer revealed. “Many a times the senior officers, although in a lighter vein would put him under extra pressure of giving his best while citing references about his father’s professional competence and would in turn expect the same kind of wisdom and competence from him, which in a way helped him in his fast grooming as an officer.”
After his graduation, one of his uncles said the 34 year-old did his B Tech from SSM Srinagar and later was selected as district officer in the social welfare department. Then he took the JKAS examination and made it to the police service. “Barely a few weeks back, he requested me – Beh Kithkan Aaseh Roub Karan, Meh Chun Tangnie.” Admitted one of his seniors: “It would require making a struggle to get him to talk.”
Humayun had received a bullet very close to his spinal cord. His younger brother, a veterinarian, who saw him during the funeral bath, told his colleagues that he had a pelvic area wound.
Once hit, only Humayun knew the race had started between two things – his blood supply and the battery of his phone. While the blood retained his life, the phone kept him in touch with the rest of the world. “He had lost all his blood and I saw him like white,” one elderly Friends Colony resident, and friend of his father, said. The haemorrhage had drained the last pint of the blood, he asserted. Only an investigation will know in the blood versus battery race, who departed from Humayun first.
For the family, however, the evening was getting into a long painful wait to get the warrior home. The entire top brass of the civil and police administration was there, till Humayun was laid to rest at around 11 pm on September 13, 2023.
The operation continues and thousand of cops, paramilitary men and soldiers are scanning the area using the most modern machinery including drones and choppers.
Official sources indicated that the mortal remains of Singh and Dhonchak are expected to reach Chandigarh and Panipat, respectively for last rites. Basically from Sikh Light Infantry, Singh and Dhonchak were decorated with Sena Medal for their contributions to counter-insurgency operations. While Singh got the medal on August 15, 2021, Dhonchak’s contributions were acknowledged on August 15, 2023. The down south Larkipora-based based 19-RR manages Kokernag, Verinag and Achabal belts and is the same battalion that killed Burhan Wani in 2016. Singh had refused a peace posting in 2021 when he was elevated to the position of colonel.
Major Dhonchak, 34, has miraculously survived on August 10, when in a cordon and search operation in the Ahlan Gadole a grenade was hurled towards his team that left three persons injured including a soldier. He had built a house and the house warming was supposed to take place on October 23. Apart from parents, Dhonchak is survived by his wife, daughter, two and a half years old. He was the only son of his father, a retired National Fertilizers Limited clerk. He has three sisters.