A 12-year-old boy in Srinagar died in a hospital on Wednesday, a day after he was injured in the Nawakadal area of the city where an encounter broke out between security forces and militants, The Greater Kashmir reported. Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including the son of a separatist leader, were killed in the gunfight.
The boy, identified as Basim Aijaz, was among the five people who were admitted to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar on Tuesday. They were injured when a house in the neighbourhood that was damaged in the encounter, collapsed and crumbled to a pile of debris.
“The boy had burn injuries,” Medical Superintendent of SMHS Hospital Dr Nazir Chowdhary told The Indian Express. “He died this evening. Four others who are admitted at the hospital are stable.”
The gunfight left destruction in its wake. According to the police, security forces used “maximum restraint” but “a few houses were damaged as militants kept changing locations”. Residents of downtown Srinagar told Scroll.in that two houses were razed to the ground, eight houses were completely burnt but still standing and two or three other houses were partially damaged.
The two militants have been identified as Junaid Ahmed Sehrai, the son of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairperson Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai and one of the outfit’s top commanders, and Tariq Ahmed Sheikh. According to a police statement, Sehrai was “involved in planning and executing several terror attacks”. Sheikh, a resident of Pulwama, had reportedly joined the militant ranks two months ago.
As the gunfight broke out, mobile phone lines were snapped in Srinagar. Later in the day, mobile internet services were also shut down in Pulwama.
While districts across the Valley witness frequent gunfights, they rarely occur in the heart of Srinagar. The last time the old city had seen a gunfight was in October 2018, when four Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were killed.
Several encounters have taken place between militants and the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir this month. On May 17, security forces killed two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Doda district of Jammu. One of the militants was Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Tahir Ahmed Bhat. On May 6, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was killed by security forces in Pulwama.
On May 3, five security personnel – an Army colonel, a major, two Army officers and a police sub-inspector – were killed in an 18-hour anti-militancy operation.