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‘It is a civilian encounter, we are being targeted’

By Rabiya Bashir

Srinagar, Apr 11: He had left to assess the situation and was at least two kilometres away from the encounter site but 45-year-old Abdul Salam Bhat of Qaimoh village in Kulgam hardly knew he would end up in a Srinagar hospital fighting for his life.
Bhat, as soon as he stepped out of his home, was hit by a bullet in his neck. Bhat fell down almost lifeless in a pool of his own blood.
He was one among the dozens of civilians injured during the gunfight, which broke out between militants and government forces in Khudwani Kulgam.
Finding his condition critical, the local hospital immediately shifted him to Srinagar, where he is now battling for his life at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the SMHS Hospital.
“Chances of his survival are bleak,” a doctor treating him told The Kashmir Monitor.
Mohammad Yousuf, the victim’s brother said that he was about two kilometres away from the encounter site when he was shot.
“Civilians are not safe at their own homes, grounds and areas in the valley. Government forces are clearly targeting us. They don’t care about civilians and their families,” he said.
Harrowingly asking his almost lifeless partner to wake up, Bhat’s wife was all tears and wails.
“I told my husband not to go out because government forces were indiscriminately firing and targeting the civilians. He did not listen to me and said I he will simple check what was happening,” she added.
“I cannot live without my husband. Please tell me, is he fine?” she asked the doctors and people around her.
Close to where Bhat was kept in the hospital, Yasir Abdullah, a 14- year-old boy from Kulgam was being operated upon.
“He was very far away from the encounter site but suddenly bullets we felt there was a barrage of bullets being fired. One of them hit Yasir in his abdomen,” said the friend attending him at SMHS.
Salik Ahmad (name changed), a resident of Kulgam, who accompanied yet another injured said: “Army remains about 2 km away from the encounter site and police handles the protests. Tell me how is it possible for civilians to reach exactly near the site?” he asked adding: “The fact is it has become a civilian encounter now. Civilians are being clearly targeted and it hardly matters for the government forces and their so-called government.”