• Police arrests 12 for ‘eve-teasing, molestation’
• Participants rue politicization of sporting event, complain of poor security
The half marathon organized here on Sunday was marked by violence following which 12 persons were arrested for allegedly eve-teasing and molesting women participants.
“The race was flagged off as per schedule and the function was going on smoothly till some miscreants within the crowd started passing obscene and lewd comments at girl participants and those in the audience. The incidents of passing remarks were also witnessed at Habbak crossing. Instances of molestation of girls by rowdy elements were reported at the Kashmir University and en-route,” a police spokesman said.
“FIRs have been registered into the incidents of molestation and eve teasing at Police Station Nigeen and 12 miscreants involved in molestation and eve-teasing have been arrested so far,” he added.
The 21-km half marathon, titled ‘Big Kashmir Marathon’, was to pass through the banks of Dal Lake along Foreshore Road. Besides some international marathoners, a large number of locals also participated in the event.
Soon after the run was flagged off at Kashmir University, some youths shouted “anti-India” slogans, raised Pakistani flags and pelted stones at forces, who resorted to lathicharge and firing of teargas shells.
SSP Srinagar, Amit Kumar said, “Some participating girls were molested by some youth and when we arrested 12 of them, they started pelting stones and bottles at us.”
He added that no participant was injured in the incident.
At the award ceremony, the miscreants hurled plastic water bottles at the podium. Police resorted to cane charge and fired tear smoke shells to disperse the crowd. The venue turned into a battle ground and was littered with wreckage of furniture and hoardings.
Eyewitnesses told Rising Kashmir that many children, who were enthusiastically participating in the event, got separated from their parents amid the chaos but were soon reunited after the situation was brought under control.
“I was participating with my 9-year-old nephew. When the violence erupted I could not find my nephew. I was worried for his safety. I found him after two hours,” said Ghulam Hassan.
A girl student from Delhi Public School reportedly became breathless after few bottles were thrown at her back.
Participants complained of mismanagement with no security arrangements. “It is very unfortunate that we politicize even the sports events. We have collectively failed to inculcate sports culture. We brainwash children that participating in any social gathering or sports event organized by the government will ‘Indianize’ them,” wrote Abid Baba, a participant.
The event was also attended by some ministers, bureaucrats and other civil and police officials. Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari and former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, who were also scheduled to attend the event, returned after learning about the clashes.
The protesting youth tore the hoardings and banners along the marathon route and brought wooden carts used by labourers and fruit sellers from a nearby market to block the stretch of road between Hazratbal and Habak.
Fifteen international professional runners were also part of the half-marathon organized by Big 92.7 FM. The organizers said the aim of the marathon was only to promote healthy lifestyle and raise awareness about the need to protect dying water bodies. They added the marathon provided people of Kashmir a platform to stand for social causes like: saving water, saving Dal Lake, fighting drug abuse, keeping Srinagar city clean, promote traffic awareness, respect for senior citizens and women. The event titled ‘CCDU Big Kashmir Marathon’ carried the slogan “I am the Change”. firstname.lastname@example.org