Comparisons have been made with the attendance at another funeral only days ago and not far from Pulwama. When Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was buried at his home town of Bijbehera in Anantnag district, fewer people attended.
Security forces say the number of protesters and mourners at the funerals of terrorists like Shakir Ahmad have been growing bigger over the past year and pose a serious challenge for them. On Wednesday, protesters clashed with the police after the funeral in Pulwama. A man was killed and two were injured, allegedly in police firing.
The massive crowds that gather after a terrorist is killed, say officials, reflect a complex and disturbing reality for Kashmir. They raise the question - is this a new ground swell in support of separatism and terrorists?
The police say protesters also often come out in the Valley to provide cover for terrorists. "Whenever there is a cordon-and-search operation and we learn of the presence of terrorists in that area, you see people are made to come out and protest, sometime leading to violence so that our attention is diverted to allow terrorists to escape," said top Jammu and Kashmir police officer, Javid Gilini.
Now, during every anti-terror operation the police also post anti-riot squads to deal with the crowds that gather. It adds to their task of neutralising terrorism and violence in a complicated environment, law enforcers say.
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