He didn’t live to see his son’s first birthday, grieving father remembers Kashmir’s braveheart cop

12:30 PM Jun 23, 2024 | PTI |

Srinagar: Eight months on, his son’s dying words, calm and reassuring even as he took his last breath, still reverberate. “I am hit…Please don’t panic,” DSP Humayun Bhat told his father, retired Jammu and Kashmir Inspector General of Police Ghulam Hasan Bhat, over the phone.


That was September 13 last year. Humayun called his father from Kokernag in south Kashmir after a gunfight with terrorists that eventually claimed the lives of four security personnel. The call lasted just 13 seconds.

Today, a month away from his grandson Ashar’s first birthday, Ghulam Bhat remembers the son who went too early, memories that come back to hit even stronger when he sees the child who will never know his father.

“When I see Ashar crawling, I remember my son Humayun. I wish Humayun could have lived longer. Next month is Ashar’s first birthday. He didn’t live long enough to see even that,” Ghulam Bhat said.

The former IGP, who dedicated 34 years to the police force, recounts in detail that last phone call, the 13 seconds at 11.48 am that will live in his memory forever.


“Papa I am hit. I have been hit in the abdomen,” Humayun said. And then added after a pause, “Please don’t panic.” The phone got cut after that.

But panic the father did.

“It is easier said than done. I guess those were the most difficult moments of my life because I was not sure what was happening till I reached 92 Base Hospital of the army in Srinagar waiting for my injured son,” he said. Security forces personnel are always brought to the hospital.

Around 3.30 pm came the next call he had been dreading.

“I was constantly in touch with senior officers of the police. Around 3.30, then DIG of South Range sent me a picture of Humayun been brought down the hillside on a makeshift stretcher.”

It took several hours more for the slain deputy superintendent of police’s body to be brought from Kokernag to the Srinagar hospital about 100 km away.

That walk down the hospital corridor with his wife was the longest, most agonising ever. The distance from Kokernag and Srinagar was over 100 km and it seemed endless, till he reached.

“Somehow I knew what was in store for me but I was hoping against hope that probably I would be able to see my Humayun talking,” Ghulam Bhat said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Despite his profound grief, he said he finds solace in the courage and selflessness displayed by his son who sacrificed his life for the nation.

The elderly couple wait every week to meet their grandson Ashar and daughter-in-law Fathima who stay near Kashmir university as she is working there.

“She has got a job in Kashmir university and stays near the workplace. The decision was hard but had to be taken as Fathima was slipping into depression as everything here in this house made her remember her husband.

“She would go through all the text messages endlessly and finally I had to change her phone. The last message from him to his wife was, ‘I am so sorry. Take care of Ashar’,” the senior Bhat said.

Humayun had successfully cleared bank exams and later the state service commission to join as a social welfare officer. He joined the police force after he got selected in the Kashmir Police Service in 2018.

“He had a passion for the police force, maybe because he grew up seeing me. Humayun was definitely the dream child of every parent. He was never argumentative with me but was close to his mother Haleema,” Ghulam Bhat said.

Humayun’s brother Dr Hanaan, a veterinarian, regularly visits his brother’s grave, finding comfort and companionship in their shared memories and brotherly bond.

Humayun rests in a cemetery just 150 metres from the family home.

“I find a lot of solace when I sit next to his grave. I convey my complaints, share everything that brothers share. After all he was not only my elder brother but a friend or closest buddy,” Hanaan said, teary and smiling.

And that’s how life is for them. Tears, a loss that will never quite go away but also a smile in memory of the man who brought them so much joy and is a fallen hero.

In September last year, security forces received intelligence inputs about the presence of hardcore terrorists in the dense forests surrounding Gadool village of Kokernag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

A joint operation was launched on the intervening night of September 12 and 13, 2023 to nab the terrorists. Sensing danger, the terrorists fired at the troops in a bid to escape. A fierce gunbattle ensued with heavy exchange of fire from both sides.

Humayun, Col Manpreet Singh, Major Aashish Dhonchak and Sepoy Pardeep Singh received bullet injuries and were severely injured. They later succumbed to the injuries.


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