Young Cricketer Killed in Kashmir's Handwara Had Stopped To Take A Photo

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Cricketer Nayeem Bhat (in pink) was killed in firing by security forces in Handwara

Handwara: 

Highlights

  1. Nayeem Bhat died when security forces opened fire on protesters
  2. 19-year-old reportedly stopped to take a picture of protests in Handwara
  3. Angry locals allege a soldier molested a girl, army refutes that claim
Trophies and medals fill every available surface in Nayeem Bhat's room.

Two days ago, the young cricketer left his two-storey home in Kashmir's Handwara for the last time.

The 19-year-old was passing by when a mob was throwing stones at an army post, provoked by allegations that a soldier had molested a schoolgirl.

He reportedly stopped to take a picture with his cell phone.

Nayeem's brother, who works for a local news agency, was reporting on the wounded when he received a call that his brother had been shot.

Nayeem was training as a top order batsman while playing for the Kashmir Gymkhana club. His cricket mates insist it is no exaggeration to call him the "Sachin Tendulkar of Handwara".

The trophies - "Emerging Player of the Year", "Man of the Series" emblazoned on them - describe a promising career cut short.

On Thursday morning, a day after Nayeem's funeral, a small group of his friends stood in his room, overwhelmed by memories and grief.

"It is unbelievable. I can't imagine he is not here. He had played in my club for five years. He was opening with me...it is extremely difficult for all of us," said Mansoor Banday, the captain of Nayeem's  team.

Another had brought Nayeem into the cricket club when he was in class 8. "I have lost everything," he choked out. A third friend, Yasir, simply struggled not to break down on camera.

Three years ago, Nayeem had participated in a national under-19 camp. He was the first to be picked from the Kupwara region of Jammu and Kashmir, where the shadow of terror strikes is a big part of life.

In one of the many pictures circulated on social media after his death, Nayeem is seen greeting a police officer before the start of a cricket match. In another, he is seen with his idol Parvez Rasool, the Kashmiri cricketer who plays in the Indian Premier League and debuted in Bangladesh two years ago.

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