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Encounter rumour kills militant's dad

Shopkeeper dies of heart attack, son safe

Srinagar: Encounters have often claimed the lives of militants in the Valley. On Tuesday, a rumour about one claimed the life of a militant's father.

Mohammad Ishaq Naikoo, a shopkeeper from Memender village in Shopian, suffered a cardiac arrest after he heard that his militant son, Zeenat ul Islam, was trapped in adjoining Kundallan village where an encounter was on.

The gunfight in Kundallan claimed the lives of two militants but Naikoo's son Zeenat was not among the dead. He was either not present at the encounter site or may have escaped the cordon.

A youth died and 123 people were injured as security forces rained bullets and pellets at protesters who threw stones at the troopers to distract them.

Another youth died too. Ubaid, a Class XI student who was wounded in firing by security forces last month in Sopore, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.

In Memender, Naikoo's family and relatives had been flooded with calls early in the morning enquiring whether Zeenat too was trapped in the security cordon.

"We don't know whether he was really trapped or it was just a rumour. We now know he is safe but the news (or rumours) was too much for his father," Naikoo's cousin Javed Ahmad told The Telegraph. "He left for the washroom, where he collapsed and died of a heart attack."

Neighbour Nazir Ahmad Wani said Naikoo was a diabetic and had hypertension. "He was always lost in thought ever since his son disappeared on Id (last month to join the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group). Every time he heard of a gunfight he would worry."

Cousin Javed said Naikoo lived a modest life and Zeenat was the family's main breadwinner. "He (Zeenat) discontinued his studies after passing Class XII to help his family. But he suddenly disappeared last month," Javed recalled, confirming what Wani had said.

Naikoo is survived by his wife, three sons - including Zeenat - and two daughters.

Thousands joined his funeral but Zeenat did not turn up, Javed said.

Local people said dozens of youths from the village had rushed to Kundullan after they learnt that Zeenat was among those trapped. Clashes soon broke out between the stone throwers and the security forces.

A doctor at a Shopian hospital said 123 injured people had been admitted to three hospitals, six with bullet wounds and most of the others with injuries caused by pellets. Tamseel Ahmad Khan, a youth from Vehil village who was hit by bullets, died at a Srinagar hospital.

Police said the gunfight ended with the death of two militants - Sameer Ahmad Sheikh, a local rebel, and Babar, a Pakistani - both from the Jaish. Two soldiers were injured too.

The separatist Joint Resistance Leadership called for protests and shutdowns on Wednesday against the fresh killings.

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