SRINAGAR: Strict curfew has been imposed in summer capital Srinagar and parts of the Valley following the killing of two civilians in fresh escalation, taking the toll of deceased to 53 in the civil uprising that broke out last month.

A civilian was killed and another critically injured when the security guard of the deputy commissioner of Ramban opened fire at a crowd that stopped their vehicle on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir's Pulwama district last evening.

"In panic, the guard opened fire, killing one person on the spot while three others were critically wounded," police sources said. Thousands of people have gathered at the native village of the deceased, Farooq Ahmad Kuchay, 30, to attend his last rites with five back-to-back funerals held so far.

Family sources said Farooq, a driver by profession, was scheduled to get married next month. Another person, Suhail Ahmad Wani, injured in the firing incident has been admitted in SKIMS Soura in critical state.

In another incident, Riyaz Ahmad, a security guard at an ATM was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Srinagar's Chattabal area last night. The body was discovered near SMHS hospital in wee hours today.

"He had open wounds on his body, the cause of which is being ascertained," a senior police officer said. The killing has sparked tensions in the capital where normal life has been crippled over the last month since the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani.

The family of the deceased has claimed that he was shot by security forces last night. However, the police has denied the allegation, saying only a post mortem will reveal the cause of his death. A report in local daily said he had died due to "pellet injuries."

A wave of protests has broken out today in different parts of the Valley including Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Baramulla, Budgam and other districts where pro-freedom songs are being played over loudspeakers of mosques.

Fearing protests, additional police and paramilitary have been deployed in parts of the Valley where curfew and restrictions have been imposed to prevent 'law and order' problems.

At a rally in south Kashmir's Khudwani yesterday, which was attended by nearly twenty thousand people, two masked militants appealed to the people 'not to betray the cause', "Agar wafa nahin kar sakte, bewafai bi na karna," the militants told the protesters.

Witnesses said some of the youths attending the rally instantly urged the militants to let them join their ranks, but they were stopped by the locals.

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief, Yasin Malik, who have extended protest shutdown call till August 5 are either under house arrest or behind bars.

All the educational institutions, government offices, banks and other businesses are closed since the uprising broke out on July 9, a day after Burhan Wani's killing by forces in Kokernag villages.

(Cover photograph: Basit Zargar)