Kashmir witnessed violent protests once again on Tuesday after crowds defied a curfew and took to the streets. Three more people were killed, raising the death toll to 18 persons or more since Monday.
Uneasy calm in Srinagar
Local officials have confirmed that four people were wounded in fresh shooting incidents involving the police on Tuesday. Hundreds of protestors threw stones at the police. Meanwhile, three more protestors were killed in clashes in Pampore, Anantnag and Sopore towns when mobs attacked security forces on Monday.
Most violent day in recent times
At least 18 persons have been killed since Monday. The curfew has been extended in the state capital Srinagar and important towns. Riot police and paramilitary forces have been stationed in and around the capital and flights to and from Srinagar have been suspended temporarily.
Riot police stationed in and around the city
The death toll is expected to rise since many of the people who were badly injured are still in hospital. Protests intensified after an Iranian channel broadcast reports of a Koran desecration in the US. Mobs burnt government buildings and a Christian missionary school as they chanted anti-US and anti-India slogans.
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony said the government was "pained" by the violence in the valley and that the situation was very "serious". He has announced an all-party meeting on Wednesday in the national capital to discuss the issue. The government will also decide on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which has been in force in Kashmir for nearly 20 years. The Act gives the Army and paramilitary troops the power to open fire, detain suspects and confiscate property while protecting the security forces from prosecution.
Leaders express dismay
Analysts believe that although this protest was because of the desecretation of the Koran in the US, the fact that civilians have been killed may increase the anti-India sentiment. The Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmud Qureshi, has condemned what he has described as "blatant violence" by the Indian forces, which had led to the death of many innocent people. The US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer has also expressed his dismay at the violence. He repeated US President Obama's condemnation of the incident in the US when demonstrators tore up copies of the Koran.
Editor: Grahame Lucas