SRINAGAR: The volatile Shopian district of south Kashmir continues to receive body-bags with a 10-year-old boy, who was injured during an explosion at the site of a deadly gun-battle, succumbing to injuries, doctors said, taking the toll of civilian deaths since last week to five.

Musharaf Fayaz, a resident of Datmudor village of Shopian, suffered critical injuries in his head and face when a shell exploded at the encounter site in Chaigund village on January 25. “He was battling for life at SKIMS hospital in Srinagar and succumbed last night,” family sources said.

Locals allege that the police and army didn’t clear the encounter site properly which resulted in Musharaf's death. Two local militants and a teenager civilian were killed in the encounter that took place a day ahead of the Republic Day celebrations.

“Had the army and police cared to sanitize the encounter site, the innocent boy would not have been harmed. A group of people took it upon themselves to clear the debris of the house which was razed to ground by government forces during encounter when the explosion occurred,” locals alleged.

The J&K Police and the Army denied the allegations, saying that they came under intense stone pelting from locals in the area, forcing them to leave, “We had to leave the area in haste because of the stone pelting. Our stay there could have worsened the situation,” DIG South Kashmir, S P Pani, said.

Musharaf is the fifth civilian to have succumbed in Shopian during anti-insurgency operations by forces, making January a bloody month for the district which has recorded the second highest recruitment of locals into militant ranks since 2016 after Pulwama district.

Yesterday, Rayees Ahmad Ganie, 22, a class 12 student and resident of Astan Mohalla Narpora village of Shopian, who had received bullets in his head when army soldiers opened fire at protesters in Gawanpora village last week, succumbed to injuries at SKIMS in Srinagar.

Two more youth, Javaid Ahmad Bhat and Suhail Javaid Lone, were killed in the army firing which prompted a furore inside and outside the state legislature, which is in its budget session, with the Hurriyat calling for 'Shopian chalo' on Friday to express solidarity with the families of the victims.

Earlier, two local militants and a civilian were killed during an encounter in Chaigund village of Shopian. The sister of one of the slain militant, who was hit by a bullet in her head, fired allegedly by security forces, is battling for her life at SKIMS with doctors terming her condition as “extremely critical”.

Meanwhile, a spontaneous shutdown is being observed in Shopian and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir for eight consecutive day in protest against the civilian killings. Witnesses and reports said all shops and other businesses are closed with authorities suspending mobile internet service to prevent further escalation in situation.

(Photo Credit: Rising Kashmir)