The violence-torn streets of Srinagar, for a change, on Monday witnessed the biggest ever peace march against war-mongers in India and Pakistan in the backdrop of recent increased border skirmishes.
Hundreds of supporters of the state's largest opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), converged from south and north Kashmir districts, including frontier border towns of Kupwara and Uri, to press for an immediate end to the Indo-Pak border clashes, which put the two armies eyeball-to-eyeball once again after a decade-long ceasefire.
PDP supporters assembled at the city's Municipal Park and marched through commercial hub Lal Chowk to reach the Clock Tower - first such sight since separatist supporters frequently took over the tower from 2008 to 2010.
"We are for talks and not tanks in Kashmir. People will not fight the war of others now. They want peace, friendship, development and solution to the Kashmir issue,"said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who was flanked by senior party leaders Tariq Hameed Karra and Muzaffar Hussain Baigh.
The party, however, was guarded in its pitch for peace. It unfurled banners and pasted posters to address the separatist constituency simultaneously. "Peace is must for Kashmir resolution and the Kashmir resolution is must for peace in the sub-continent,"read one such banner.
Calling for talks between India and Pakistan, Mehbooba referred to recent India-China talks held amid growing animosity on the borders. "Despite China issuing stapled visas to students of Kashmir and carried out incursions on the borders, you (New Delhi) held talks with them, why not Pakistan?"asked Mehbooba.
PDP leader Baig described the rally "as historic and first such effort".
The party spokesman Naeem Akhtar said the rally was rare people's assertion "to oppose war openly on the streets with emphatic no to violence".
"People of Kashmir would live with the mindset of 'Hamlawar Khaabardar, Hum Kashmiri Hey Tayaar (Oh attackers beware, we Kashmiris are ready). Today's rally was a departure from that mindset and was a strong message to war-mongers in India, Pakistan and the state,"said Akhtar in an oblique reference to the recent statement made by chief minister Omar Abdullah where he called for "other options"against Pakistan.
"There are people here who tried to break the consensus on peace, agreed upon in 2003. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee too was part to this consensus,"he added.
Jammu and Kashmir witnessed heightened border clashes throughout the month of October, which left several injured and dozens displaced. One estimate suggests that Pakistan resorted to violation of ceasefire for more than 200 times in the last two months. A truce was struck only after high-level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad.