The June 16 firefight at south Kashmir’s Arwani village, which left Lashker-e-Toiba commander Junaid Matoo and his two associates dead, also took away the only son of Meema and Mushtaq Ahmad Wani of the neighbouring Shamshipora village. While the relatives of Ehsaan Mushtaq (13), a Class VIII student, have alleged that he was assaulted by security personnel, police has said that he was caught in the crossfire. Anantnag SP Zubair Khan refuted the allegations of assault. “There was an exchange of fire. He was caught in the crossfire,” said Khan.
But, Ehsaan’s cousin, who did not wish to be named, said that on the day of the firefight, Ehsaan returned early from his school at Batengoo. “It was a Friday and the school closed early. He went to the local mosque and offered prayers,” said the cousin.
As news of the firefight spread, people at Shamsipora started marching towards Arwani, said the cousin. “Ehsaan too went towards Arwani. I don’t know what prompted him,” he added.
Some of Ehsaan’s neighbours, who were witnesses to the firefight, said that protesters were throwing stones towards security personnel. “Suddenly, they chased a group of protesters. Everybody ran away. In the melee, they caught hold of Ehsaan, who was a mere spectator,” said a neighbour.
An injured Ehsaan was taken to the sub-district hospital at Qaimoh where doctors declared him brought dead. According to doctors, the cause of his death was a bullet injury. “He had taken a bullet in the right flank,” said block medical officer Dr Ayub.
Ehsaan has two sisters, Gazala, a Class X student and Nazish, a Class IV student.