Donning a fancy cap, hooded sweatshirt and white-soled canvas shoes, Nazir Ahmad Joo, in his early twenties, lined up outside a security force camp in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Some months ago, you would have thought he was there to throw stones at the security forces. On the contrary, Joo was there to join them.
Like Joo, nearly 3,000 youths gathered at the Khanyar area in old Srinagar in the hope of landing a job as a constable at the recruitment drive organised by the state police.
The previous such on-the-spot recruitment rally in Srinagar was held in 2000.
"A job in the state police will provide a security cover to my whole family. My parents stressed that I participate in the recruitment rally," said Joo. His hand was stamped with blue ink confirming his selection.
Wednesday's drive was the first of a series that are to be held in all seven police stations in downtown Srinagar.
The police see it as a favourable move to defuse further unrest like last summer's clashes between protestors and security forces that left more than 100 people dead. Khanyar had witnessed dozens of incidents of stone-throwing last year.
"This rally has no connection with the stone-throwing we witnessed last year. But recruitments from the downtown area will definitely have an impact on containing protests since the selected boys will belong to the area," said Showket Hussain, superintendent of police, Srinagar (north).
Hussain said the police would not select anyone who had participated in stone-throwing protests.
But CRPF constable Raj Kumar manning the recruitment rally said, "I can identify more than 50 faces in the queue who were involved in incidents of stone-throwing. Many of them have been selected."
The opposition People's Democratic Party said, "It is surprising the recruitment was started without prior notice, information or advertisement. It seems it’s meant only for those recommended by the ruling party."