As India and Pakistan are waging a bitter diplomatic fight over Kashmir, hundreds of Kashmiri youths have a strong message.
They want to fight cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan by joining the Indian army.
Testimony to the fact is that more than 12,000 Kashmiri men have registered online for an ongoing recruitment rally to join the Indian army, which will conclude on September 25.
The enrollment drive is underway at Anantnag in south Kashmir, the epicenter of violent protests in the Valley since July.
An army spokesperson told reporters that the overwhelming participation of Kashmiri men in the army rally held great significance. He added that it was no mean feat especially at a time when separatists and militants had asked Kashmiri youths to not join the security forces.
"After the overwhelming response on the first day and in spite of 'Anantnag Chalo'(march to Anantnag) call (by separatists), a large number of candidates from the districts of Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam turned up on the second day of the rally today," the spokesperson told reporters on Thursday.
The large-scale participation of the enthusiastic youths in the rally shows the desire of Kashmiris to get respectable employment opportunities in the Indian army. These men also want peace and normalcy back in the Valley.
"Besides reflecting the sense of duty and patriotism, love for adventure and need for employment, the large turnout of youth at this rally, also represents clearly the desire for calm, peace and normalcy of the candidates themselves, their family and friends," the spokesperson said.
The first day of the enrollment drive saw the participation of around 500 local men on September 21.
"The number of applicants could have been more had there been no problems in the internet connectivity in the Valley," the spokesperson said.
A similar army recruitment drive will be conducted at Bandipora district in north Kashmir from September 29.
The Valley is on the boil in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
Reports say around 80 have been killed and around 10,000 civilians and security personnel have been injured in two-and-a-half months of violence.