‘He was one of our best’: Friends and farewell at DySP Humayun Bhat’s home

[FPK Photo/Umar Farooq.]

“His loss is unsettling. Our hearts sink thinking about his parents, young widow and his barely month old baby. The life can’t be this cruel to us!”

Along with an entourage of emotional cops and top officials, some school buddies of the fallen policeman flooded his Humhama residence in the dark hours of September 13. All eyes were on the gate for the final homecoming of Humayun Bhat who was recently making merry after becoming father, but now his tragic demise was unleashing mourning on his entire clan. 

His retired cop father shortly returned from the most woeful wreath ceremony of his life. And in whispers his friends recalled their growing up moments while taking turns to console each other. 

“He was a very kind soul,” recalls Humayun’s Burn Hall school friend. “We used to share tiffin and Cheetos as kids. He was a gentle person. We shared school and college together, but I never knew he would leave us like this.” 

[FPK Photo/Umar Farooq.]

During his early days as deputy superintendent of police, another friend recalled, Humayun would once spot him while manning Nowhatta square with a police party. “He greeted me just as he would in campus,” he said. “He was the same spirited person playing a different role now.” 

Amid these recollections, Humayan finally came home in the tricolor-draped coffin. He was shouldered and supported by a group of mourners including his friends. The loud shrieks upon his arrival once again renewed the grieving that has been numbing Kashmir from the last thirty odd years now.

“I remember him always having trouble with his belt because he had a slim waist,” recounted Humayun’s another school friend. “He was a different chap, perfectly in his zone, and always up for some joke and adventure.”

[FPK Photo/Umar Farooq.]

Humayun was part Kokernag military operation along with Army Colonel Manpreet Singh and Major Ashish. As the lead party, the trio reportedly faced the first firearm exchange. The terrain and the trained guns subsequently delayed the evacuation process leading Humayun’s death due to heavy blood loss. 

“A local source came to RR/JKP with info about a hideout of Pakistan terrorists and led the Colonel, Major and DSP to the area,” said SP Vaid, former DGP, J&K. “This source was perhaps compromised and they were ambushed.” 

Soon the visuals from Srinagar’s police lines triggered a tsunami of tributes and tear-jerkers. Apart from activists and analysts, an officer part of Humayun’s police stint made it a mass mourning with his recollection. “As a probationer in 2019,” said police officer Shabir Khan, “you [Humayun] were full of enthusiasm.” 

But what stood out in this sweeping solidarity moment was the reaction towards the former top cop father’s calm demeanour. 

Former IGP Ghulam Hasan Bhat defied father’s emotions while taking part in his cop son’s wreath.

Many termed it a heart-breaking moment, but a top officer called it a generational shift in the experience of loss and grief within the J&K Police. “Until recently,” said SSP Imtiyaz Hussain, “we were bearing the weight of our colleagues’ coffins, who were of our generation. Tragically today, we find ourselves carrying the coffins of our own sons dying in this Pakistan sponsored monster of terrorism.”

IGP Ghulam Hasan, notably, hung up his police boots in 2018. In the same year, his son Humayun stepped into his shoes as DySP of Jammu and Kashmir Police. “Our colleague, a police veteran himself, knew the risk that comes with the Jammu and Kashmir Police service,” SP Vaid said about Humayun’s father, “and still allowed his son to join JKPS and serve his state and country.”

[FPK Photo/Umar Farooq.]

The fresh fatality has already created a stormy reaction across military and political spectrum. Along with tributes, tempers against Islamabad are rising. Amid all this, Humayun’s school buddies are unable to wrap their heads around the tragic loss. 

“He was one of the best in our group,” recalls his friend. “His loss is unsettling. Our hearts sink thinking about his old parents, young widow and his barely month old kid. The life can’t be this cruel to us!”


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