Jammu and Kashmir observed Martyrs' Day on Friday to pay tribute to the 22 people killed on July 13, 1931 by the monarchy that ruled the region .
While chief minister Omar Abdullah, his ministers and mainstream political parties paid tributes to the martyrs, entire separatist leaders, who claim these martyrs as their icons, were placed under preventive detention.
In the morning, Omar and his senior ministers were first to reach the graveyard at Naqshband Sahib, which was placed under multi-tier security layers to keep protesters at bay.
"Sacrifices of the martyrs to free the society from autocracy and lay edifice for democracy and human dignity is one of the richest chapters of the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The best way to pay homage is to help create equitable and palatable environment for everyone to grow and develop in a democratic atmosphere," said Abdullah at the graveyard near Nowhata.
Besides the wreath-laying ceremony by the chief minister, a 21-gun salute and a guard of honour was presented by the police in memory of the 22 persons killed in the 1931 firing.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed followed the chief minister to pay his tributes but expressed anguish over "unprecedented security arrangements".
"During the PDP-Congress rule, we never had to impose curfew or such restrictions on such a solemn day. To put entire population under such security restrictions goes against the spirit of democracy, for which these people laid their lives in 1931," said Sayeed.
Since Thursday evening, the authorities stepped up security presence outside houses and offices of separatists. Both moderate and hardline Hurriyat chairmen Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani were under house arrest. They had called for separate peaceful marches towards the martyrs' graveyard.
"It's irony that on one hand the pro-India leaders visited the graveyard under a security cover but on the other relatives and real representatives of these martyrs' goal were barred. This exposes the authorities' writ," said the Mirwaiz, while condemning the government's decision to bar him and other priests from performing Friday prayers in Jama Masjid and other mosques in old city.
JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik, detained in his house, said, "The 1931 martyrs did not lay down their lives for power but to liberate people of Kashmir from slavery. It's fake on pro-India leaders to lay flowers at the graveyard and, in an undemocratic way, arrest pro-freedom leaders. We are real guardians of these martyrs."
Other separatist leaders whose attempt to carry out a march was foiled by the police are Shabir Ahmad Shah, Javeed Mir, Hilal War and Nayeem Khan.
The government had imposed curfew-like restrictions in five major police stations in Srinagar to foil any attempt by protesters to create trouble.
A shootout at the city's central jail on July 13, 1931, had killed 22 people, protesting for the release of an under trial, Abdul Qadeer. These people were also calling for an end to the then monarchic rule in the state. Around 11 more people were killed outside Srinagar on the same day.