A 22-year-old civilian was killed in a “cross-fire” between security forces and militants in Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday. This is the second such instance when a civilian has been killed in “cross-firing” in the last six days in Shopian district.

On Sunday, Shoib Ahmad Ganai, a shopkeeper at Turkwangam village, was severely wounded after he was hit by multiple bullets. He was taken to the District Hospital in Pulwama, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The version of locals vs the police

According to the police, militants fired at Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operations Group and the Central Reserve Police Force in south Kashmir. They were taking part in a joint patrol near the bridge connecting Litter area in Pulwama with Turkwangam in Shopian.

The civilian died in the “cross-fire” between the militants and the army, the police claimed.

“The terrorists after a brief chance encounter managed to slip into nearby orchards,” the police added. “The whole area has been cordoned off with the help of reinforcement and searches in the area is going on.”

The police have registered a case and started an investigation. Shopian District Magistrate has also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the matter.

Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh termed the killing of the civilian as a sad incident. “I have all the sympathy with the bereaved family,” he said, according to NDTV. He added that the army has been instructed to not harm civilians at any cost.

However, according to residents, the army fired at Ganai at a police check post in Shopian district.

“Troops were looking for somebody”, an elderly man, who was witness to the scene, told NDTV. “They said someone had escaped. He [Ganai] raised his both arms for a security check but they fired at him. We demand a probe. What’s the safety of people working in fields if a shopkeeper is killed like this.”

Residents held a protest against the killing of the 22-year-old, NDTV reported.

On Sunday, MY Tarigami, spokesperson for the Gupkar Alliance said that the citizens are “dissatisfied with the government version”. In a tweet, he urged the Union Territory administration to order a credible inquiry so that the guilty are identified.

On May 10, a civilian was killed in a “cross-firing” between militants, the Jammu and Kashmir police, the Indian Army and paramilitary personnel in Shopian, The Indian Express reported. The militants escaped during the gunfight.

Sunday’s development came at a time when massive protests have erupted in the Valley after suspected militants barged into a government office in Budgam district on Thursday and shot dead Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit. The police said that he worked as a revenue department official at the tehsil office in Chadoora.

On Friday, the police fired tear gas and baton-charged protestors, who had participated in a march from a migrant colony in Budgam’s Sheikhpora to the Srinagar International Airport.