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SOURCE: DH News Service

“She was neither a militant nor a stone pelter, why was she killed?” wonders the father of 12-year-old Andleeb Ali, who was killed in army firing in Hawoora, a sleepy hamlet in Kashmir, on July 7.

The class VII student was killed with two boys from the same locality after soldiers opened fire on “stone pelters”. Recounting the tragic day, her father Ali Mohammad Aliee said: “We were working in the lawn when suddenly firing began. Andleeb and my elder daughter asked me to run as they feared the army may harm me.”

“Outside our home, the army had shot at several boys and one of them was 19-year-old Shakir Khanday, our relative. As soon as my daughters came to know, they rushed towards the road with a glass of water and tried to help Shakir. But the army men didn’t tolerate this and they directly fired at my daughters,” Aliee told DH as mourners continued to visit the family.

While Aliee’s elder daughter escaped unhurt, the younger one was hit on the thighs. “While Shakir died a few minutes later, Andleeb was profusely bleeding. The army didn’t allow the ambulances to move in the area and some of the neighbours took my daughter on a stretcher to a hospital, 3 km from our home. By the time they reached the hospital, she was dead,” he said and burst into tears.

Aliee called it a “targeted killing” and questioned the army’s tactics. “Is helping an injured person a crime for which he or she should be killed? And the army didn’t stop after killing my daughter. They ransacked our house. Everywhere in the world army is meant for fighting the enemy on the border. But in Kashmir, they treat 12-year-old kids as the enemy and show their might over them. If the Indian Army is so strong, let them fight with the enemy on the border and not against unarmed kids.”

Andleeb was a brilliant student, her teachers said. She always topped the class and was also a unanimous choice for the class prefect. She had aspired to become a teacher.

“I don’t know how I would be able to sit in the classroom without her by my side. She was very friendly and would help us with studies,” said Ruvaida Amin, Andleeb’s friend and classmate.