A civilian died after being hit by a "stray" bullet near the site of an encounter between security forces and militants in south Kashmir's Kulgam area, police said on Monday.
The locals, however, alleged that the security forces opened fire and used tear gas shelling to disperse a group of protesters, who marched towards the encounter site after news of the death of two local militants spread in the area.
The two militants of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed during an encounter with security forces late on Sunday night at Redwani Bala.
"We are trying to ascertain what happened. The civilian died about 500 meters away from the encounter site. Preliminary investigation shows that a stray bullet had hit him near his home,'' said superintendent of police Kulgam Mumtaz Ahmad.
The civilian has been identified as 21-year-old Asif Ahmad Tantray from Redwani Bala.
Ahmad also said there were no protests at the time of Tantray's death.
"The civilian died around 5.30 in the morning while protests took place at around 10.30am when the bodies of the militants were being taken away,'' he added.
Sources said the militants, Javid Ahmad Bhat and Idrees Ahmad Negroo, were holed up in a residential house after police cordoned the area following a tip off.
"The encounter started following a specific information. Two militants, both locals belonging to the area, were killed in the encounter,'' Ahmad said.
According to reports, the overnight encounter has ended and security officials have started a search operation in the area. Police have also retrieved the bodies of the two militants.