The morning after the auspicious day of Shabhi Barat, the day when the almighty decides one's fate and when people stay up all night praying for their destiny, there was no doubt what the Kashmir Valley had wished for: Azadi.
On Monday morning, Srinagar woke up to truck after truck with green flag-waving, green bandana-sporting youth. They came in all means of transport and from all over the Valley. Buses, cars, trucks, motorcycles and even the odd government civil supplies department vehicle appropriated for the occasion.
The Valley had converged in Srinagar following a call from the All Party Hurriyat Conference to march to the United Nations Military Observers Group office in the heart of the city. For the separatist leaders, the call had two purposes -- to internationalise the issue and to gauge the intensity of the newly re-ignited call for freedom -- before the leaders could decide how best to take it forward.
While the first was served by way of a memorandum to the UN, there was no saying if the response helped the leadership in any way. They were overwhelmed.
Anti-Indian -- 'Crush India', 'When the Lashkar comes, India will be defeated' -- and pro-Pakistani -- 'Kashmir ki mandi… Rawalpindi'. 'Seb toh sirf bahana hain, Rawalpindi jaana hain' -- slogans punctuated the relentless call for Azadi as the crowd of more than 1,00,000 made its way to the Tourists Reception Centre grounds in the centre of the city.
Text: Krishnakumar P and Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | Photographs: Krishnakumar P
Image: Protestors on their way to the Hurriyat rally.
Also read: Coverage: The Amarnath Row