Kashmir's ruling National Conference (NC) and opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) are busy these days showering praises on those separatists who espoused the cause of the state's secession from India.
"The Mirwaiz Farooq sahib was a leader of high stature. He was a great religious and a political figure, besides being tolerant and visionary," said ruling NC's senior cabinet minister Ali Muhammad Sagar in his message of tribute to moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's slain father.
Dropping broad hints at a pre-poll alliance with the moderate separatist leader, Sagar said, "We will offer fateh (special prayers for the departed soul) at the party headquarters for the elder Mirwaiz."
The moderate Hurriyat chairman's father Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq was assassinated on May 21, 1990 in Srinagar. Exactly 12 years later, another senior separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone, father of Sajad Lone and Bilal Lone, met the same fate during a function in Srinagar to commemorate death anniversary of the elder Mirwaiz.
Both the slain separatist leaders were for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir and strongly advocated Pakistan's support to resolve "the Kashmir dispute".
However, mainstream parties have found the 23rd death anniversary an occasion to reach out to separatists ahead of the 2014 assembly polls.
"Both the leaders during their struggle for the dignity and honour of the people upheld values that will remain as an asset with us," said PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, also former union home minister.
Paying tributes, Sayeed said, "Both were ardent lovers of people and dedicated themselves for ultimate public good. It was unfortunate they were assassinated at a time when their presence on the political scene was needed the most."
Sayeed, in an attempt to build bridges with separatists, said, "Their (separatist leaders') unfinished task on reconciliation and dialogue on Kashmir remains sacred trust with the PDP. We will continue to struggle for the fulfillment of that unfinished task."
Both the NC and the PDP are eyeing on the eight seats of Srinagar, which remain a separatist bastion. The moderate Hurriyat leader, however, sought to distance himself from the mainstream leaders' public overtures.
"They (mainstream leaders) are just puppets. Decisions on the ground are taken by the security agencies," said the Mirwaiz, who has been placed under a house arrest ahead of a public rally to commemorate his father's death anniversary.
"The state and the Centre were afraid of separatist politics. Despite suppressive measures to muzzle the voice of people, Kashmiris have shown steadfastness towards their cause for freedom," he said.
The Mirwaiz warned that "peace won't prevail in the sub-continent until New Delhi stops looking at Kashmir issue through the prism of security."