SRINAGAR: Mystery surrounds the shooting of a civilian last night in central Kashmir’s Budgam district who succumbed today morning at a hospital here.

Family of the victim, Ishfaq Ahmad, a carpenter, and a resident of Magraypora in Budgam, and local witnesses said the he was shot last evening near an Army camp, allegedly by the Army soldiers.

Sources said the victim was given basic life support at a local medical facility and later referred to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital in a “very critical” state. The victim was shifted last night to super speciality SKIMS.

“He had suffered bullet injuries in head and leg and was immediately put on advanced life support. However, he succumbed today morning,” a doctor at SKIMS hospital said.

The Army, however, has denied their involvement in the firing incident. Army’s Srinagar-based spokesman, Col Rajesh Kalia said Ishfaq was “shot by militants some 500-600 meters away from the Chattergam camp.”

“Our soldiers were alerted by sound of firing and a ‘Quick Reaction Team’ was formed to find out what was happening. When they reached the spot, Ahmad was laying in a pool of blood,” Col Kalia said.

Some reports suggested that a grenade was lobbed at the Chattergam army camp by unknown persons after which the soldiers on duty retaliated, resulting in the killing of Ahmad. Col Kalia however dismissed the reports as “completely baseless.”

Senior superintendent of Budgam police Tejender Singh said they are investigating the incident. “We are ascertaining the facts,” he said.

Mobile internet has been suspended in the district and security has been stepped up to prevent any law and order breakdown.

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old girl, Muskan Jan, who was allegedly injured in cross firing when militants attacked an army camp in Sher-e-Kashmir Agriculture University’s (SKAUST) campus at Khudwani last Thursday.

“She had slipped into coma after suffering a gunshot injury in the skull. She was undergoing treatment at SMHS hospital where she breathed her last today morning,” sources said.

Civilians have become easy targets in Kashmir’s protracted war as local insurgency has shown a steep rise since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.

According to official figures, more than hundred civilians have been killed in the first ten months of this year. During this period, more than 200 militants were gunned down in encounters.

While most of the civilian killings have been blamed on security forces, militants are also seen to be behind the incidents, including the recent throat-slitting of two young men in south Kashmir who were accused of working as informers for security agencies.

(Cover Photo by BASIT ZARGAR)