SRINAGAR: Clashes between youths and security forces marred the first-ever international half marathon in Kashmir Valley here today, following which 12 persons were arrested for allegedly eve-teasing and molesting women runners.
Soon after the run, organised to spread awareness about saving Srinagar's iconic Dal Lake, was flagged off at Kashmir University at Hazratbal, some youths shouted "anti-India" slogans, raised Pakistani flags and pelted stones at forces, who resorted to lathicharge and firing of teargas shells. "The situation is under control now," police said, adding that there was, however, no report of any injury to anyone.
The incident drew flak from both PDP and NC. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was to take part in the event but pulled out of it owing to security situation, said on Twitter: "The theme for the run was 'save the Dal'. It's such a pity that politics had to come in the way of that also (sic)." A PDP leader said those who indulged in sloganeering and raising of Pakistani flag were also behind eve-teasing and molestation, leading to the disturbance.
PDP president and MP Mehbooba Mufti expressed her dismay over the alleged incidents of molestation and eve-teasing and said, "Such a rowdy behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society. The state's civil society should rise against such unruly behaviour where our daughters are being dishonoured by misguided, disruptive elements."
"I do not know what was wrong with this marathon and why the youth tried not only to disrupt it but also to humiliate the female participants both from within and outside the state," she said. Waheed Para, PDP's youth wing president and political analyst to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, accused the slogan-shouting youths of eve-teasing and molesting women participants. "We condemn the incident," he added.
"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... FIRs have been registered... at Police Station Nigeen and 12 miscreants involved in molestation and eve-teasing have been arrested so far," a police spokesman said.
The 21-km half 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.