Youth carrying fruits home shot dead in J&K’s Shopian

Shahid, 19, a student who worked as a labourer to support his family’s meagre income, was returning to his village with a bagful of apples. He was shot dead near a CRPF post

Youth carrying fruits home shot dead in J&K’s Shopian

Gulzar Bhat

At around 10:30 am, social media in the Valley burst forth with the picture of the lifeless, bullet riddled body of a young man lying outside a vehicle in Babapora Zainpora village, some 65 kms South of Srinagar.

As the residents in the adjoining Nowpora Kharpora village saw the picture, they identified the slain man as Shahid Aijaz, son of Aijaz Ahmad Rather, a village farmer.

Shahid (19) had gone to the village a couple of days ago to work as a farmworker as the harvesting season in the Valley is at its peak.

However, due to the filthy weather, Shahid decided to head back home with a small bag full of apples.

Sporting jeans and Pheran, a loose long garment worn by natives in the Valley particularly during wings, when Shahid reached near a CRPF facility, bullets tore through him.

"We did not know how he was killed. After seeing his picture on the social media, we rushed to the village to claim his body," said Adil Ahmad, a family member of Shahid.

Police said that the youth was killed during cross firing after militants attacked a CRPF's Naka party in Babapora village.

"Around 10:30 hrs unidentified terrorists attacked a Naka party of 178 Bn, CRPF at Babapora, Shopian. CRPF retaliated the fire and during cross-firing, one unidentified person got killed. Further details are being ascertained," the Shopian district police tweeted.

"God knows better what actually happened there. But we don't have any concrete reason to believe the police version," said a local resident of Nowpora Kharpora village.

The incident occurred at a time when Home Minister Amit Shah is on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. This is the Home Minister's first Kashmir Sojourn after New Delhi withdrew the special status of the region and broke it into two Union Territories.

In view of the Home Minister's visit, the security in the Valley particularly in Srinagar has been beefed up and roads leading to Raj Bhawan and SKICC were made off-limits for the civilian while hundreds of two- wheelers were impounded by the police over the last week. However, the police in a tweet said that the seizing of bikes had nothing to do with the Home Minister's visit.

Shahid's killing is the second such incident in this month. Earlier, CRPF men shot dead a civilian in Anantnag district after the car he was travelling in did not stop near a checkpoint.

A total of 12 civilians were killed in this month and most of them were the targeted killings.

Shahid was the elder of his five siblings and would do menial jobs to ramp up the meagre income of his father.

"He was studying in class 12, but besides his studies, he would work as a daily wage labourer to help his poor father financially", said Bashir Ahmad, who lives in Shahid's neighbourhood.

Ahmad said that their village comprising 300 household is home to hundreds of labourers who work in neighbouring villages to make their ends.

"Shahid's family is no way an exception. It has also been in a tight corner due to abject poverty," said Ahmad.

While the villagers flocked to the Shahid’s residence, his family is waiting for his body outside a local police station under a sullen sky.

J&K National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said that the youth was shot dead even though he was not carrying any weapons or explosives. Such things, Omar Abdullah said, would further alienate people.

“He was shot dead & his bag has no weapons or explosives, he’s carrying fruit & vegetables. This policy of ‘shoot first’ will further alienate people. This is no way to make friends with the people or the youth of Kashmir,” Abdullah tweeted.

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