hazim bhat - handwara
Hazim Shafi Bhat, who was killed in the Handwara shootout on 4 May 2020. Photograph courtesy family.

Srinagar: A 14-year-old physically-handicapped boy was killed, alongside three Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers, in a shootout when the militants attacked the 92 battalion of a CRPF party in Wangam area of Qaziabad, Handwara, north Kashmir, on Monday.

The body of Hazim Shafi Bhat, a class seventh student, of Khipora village was spotted after the brief exchange of gunfire. It was lying around half a kilometer away from the site. 

Bhats cousin, Aadil Bhat told The Kashmir Walla that they were roaming in the field and he [Bhat] was grazing sheep. “Then we suddenly heard gunshots from the distance and we ran. As I was running, I was reminded that Hazim was left behind. But when I went back to look for him, he wasn’t there,” he said.

Bhat’s uncle, Haji Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, claimed that the body was found near the shootout site, which is almost half-a-kilometre from his residence. The family termed reports of labelling him as a militant “very unfortunate.”

“He could not even walk or talk properly,” said the uncle. “How can he be a militant?”

At about 5:32 pm, a few militants had attacked the CRPF party; in the attack, two CRPF men were killed on the spot while several others suffered injuries. Later, one among them succumbed to the injuries on the way to the hospital.

With three younger sisters, Bhat was the eldest son in the family. “I only came to know about his killing from Facebook,” said the cousin. “I went again to find him with my family but army didn’t allow us in the area.”

The Public Relations Officer of the CRPF in Kashmir, Assistant Commandant Junaid Khan said, “In the attack, three CRPF men were killed, two of them on the spot and another on way to the hospital.”

A police officer also confirmed that the boy was killed in the “cross-firing.” The officer identified the CRPF men killed in the attack as Constable Santosh Mishra, Constable Chandra Shekhar and Ashwani Kumar Yadav.

Soon after the attack, additional reinforcement of the army, SOG, and CRPF rushed to the spot and launched a massive search operation to trace out the fleeing militants.

The search operation was going on in the area when this report was filed. 

With additional reporting by GNS

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