Amid security restrictions and separatists' bid to march towards the old city in Srinagar, the Valley-based mainstream political parties paid tributes to the 1931 martyrs under heightened security cover.
Separatist leaders, including hardline Hurriyat head Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, were placed under house arrest since Sunday. Another senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah was arrested on Monday morning outside his office in Srinagar.
However, the bid of second-rung moderate leaders, including Hilal War and Javed Mir, was foiled by the police. A similar bid was made in the Shaheed Gunj area. Separatist leaders tried to march from Maisuma and made an attempt to bypass the security cordon laid in the area, but were arrested.
"Kashmiris have been making sacrifices not just from 1947 when India occupied J&K, but well before that. I salute my nation and its martyrs for their courage, resilience and faith in the sacredness of our movement," said Mir.
With separatists planning a joint rally from the Jamia Masjid, inspector general of police Syed Javaid Gillani said, "Law and order will be maintained."
To thwart separatists' protest march, all main roads leading to the Naqsbandh Sahib shrine, in the premises of which martyrs of 1931 are buried, were blocked by security forces in the old city. Locals alleged they were not be allowed to assemble in areas around Nowhatta.
Only mainstream leaders were allowed to reach to the graveyard under multi-tier security cover, because the area is a separatist bastion and highly volatile.
Chief minister Mutfi Mohammad Sayeed along with a battery of party ministers and leaders paid floral tributes in the morning. He tried to reach out to separatists by holding out dialogue bait.
"Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se (Neither guns, nor bullets, dialogue will resolve issues)...People of the state have shown the strength of ballot by voting overwhelmingly in a series of elections since 2002. Both India and Pakistan have to resolve their differences by talking to each other for lasting peace in the region," said Sayeed.
Former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah also reached the graveyard to pay tributes to the martyrs.
However, the BJP was conspicuous from its absence. "This day holds no reverence for us," said BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir.