The unending stretch of violence that began last Friday continued on Tuesday with four more people being killed, as thousands of protestors poured into the streets defying curfew.
With these deaths, the toll since Friday has risen to 26.
Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah returned from his Delhi visit and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called an all-party meeting to discuss ways to control the situation in the Kashmir Valley, three more persons were killed in firing by security forces while a fourth, injured earlier, died in hospital.
The sheer number of people on the streets forced the troops to retreat in some areas and allow protests, making a mockery of the shoot-at-sight orders.
The first victim was Mehraj-ud-Din Lone, who was part of a angry crowd when he was hit by a bullet near Srinagar’s Qamarwari area in the forenoon.
Within hours, another youth, Anis Ahmed Ganai, was shot near the Eidgah in downtown Srinagar. He was part of the crowd that had assembled following All Parties Hurriyat Conference moderate faction chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s appeal to gather. Geelani himself could not make it as he was arrested again.
Hundreds accompanied the body of Ganai as it was carried to the main mosque in Srinagar for funeral prayers, and later to the graveyard.
As news of the fresh killings spread, still more people poured out of their homes. Police fired aerial shots and lobbed tear-gas shells to control the crowds.
The third youth, Suhail Ahmad, was shot when protesters hit the streets in Srinagar’s Shaltengh area in the early evening. Police have refused to confirm Ahmad’s death so far.
“Mobs attacked public and police properties at a number of places. The houses of policemen were targeted, and set on fire,” said a government spokesman.
The fourth death was that of Reyaz Ahmed Bhat, injured in Khrew in south Kashmir two days ago.
To control the situation two more battalions, or 2,000 more security personnel, are being rushed to Srinagar.