Hundreds of villagers on Wednesday turned up at a graveyard in Buran-Pattan in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district to pay last respects to Mohammad Shafi Bhat, one of the 14 CRPF personnel who were killed fighting Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma on Monday.
Shafi, 33, is survived by wife Haseena Akthar and two children. He had joined the CRPF in 2006 and served in different parts of the country.
Family members said three weeks ago Shafi had left his native village, located on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, with a promise that he would visit them in spring. “He had promised that he will come again to home in spring. But, we can never see him again,’’ said his father Mehrajudin Bhat, who used to work with J&K’s Power Development Department.
“My son had joined the CRPF because he wanted to serve the country as a soldier. I am proud that he laid down his life for the country,’’ he said. Mehrajudin, however, is now worried about the future of Shafi’s wife and his two children. “To look after his family is my only concern.’’
Top J&K police and civil officials were present when the body of Shafi was laid to rest at the local graveyard. Since, the news of Shafi’s death broke in the village, people from neighbouring villages also visited the bereaved family.
Shafi is the first youth from the Valley who was killed fighting Maoists.
Shafi’s brother Bashir Ahmad blamed the Chhattisgarh government for his death. “My brother always used to tell me that the Maoists have automatic firearms, while the CRPF personnel are ill-equipped,’’ he said, adding, “Neither the state nor the Centre care for poor CRPF jawans who are fighting the Maoists in remote parts of the country”.
Shafi’s friend and neighbour Fayaz Ahmed said, “He used to help villagers when ever he was here on the holidays. As the young man has laid down his life for the country, it is now duty of the Centre and the state government to take care of his wife and children.’’