Geelani And PDP Cross Swords Over kashmir Marathon
Kashmir Marathon turns violent in Srinagar
SRINAGAR: Amid allegations of molestation of female participants' the Jammu and Kashmir government said "disruptive elements" don't want positive messages to come out of the state. At least 12 persons, believed to be students, were arrested for allegedly sabotaging the first international marathon held in Srinagar.
State Education minister and Cabinet spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar, said the disruption that took place near the University of Kashmir, the venue of the marathon, is an "attempt to subvert the revival of normalcy" in the state.
"Disruptive elements don't want positive messages to come out of Jammu and Kashmir where a process of political assimilation and economic reconstruction has begun under the new government," Akhtar said at the annual "Seshrang" event, organised by Kashmir Music Club in the lawns of Botanical Garden flanking the Dal Lake.
The events at the marathon drove a wedge in Kashmir with veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani hailing the protesters for foiling the event, "Deliberate attempt are being used for immoral acts and cultural aggression by the government. The youth here are politically mature enough to understand the difference between the friends and foes."
Training guns at the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Geelani said the state government is "acting as puppet to implement the RSS diktats" in the state. “The educational institutions are meant to impart quality education among youth .... but India is using even the education centres here to implement its nefarious designs,” Geelani said.
Severe clashes had broken out Sunday during the awards ceremony of "Big Kashmir Marathon", organised by the state government and a private group, when a group of youths hurled empty plastic bottles at the participants standing near the podium.
PDP's youth president Waheed Parra said "miscreants" allegedly eve-teased and molested female participants, resulting in disruption. "Some people tried to misbehave with female participants. There were many complaints of eve-teasing and molestation which are condemnable," Parra, who is also political analyst to chief minister, said.
Eyewitnesses, however, said some girls were "pushed" when the ruckus broke out in the midst of award distribution ceremony. "We condemn the incident. It was an apolitical event...no politician was invited. Some politicians like former chief minister Omar Abdullah and myself had voluntarily registered for it," Parra said.
The 21-km half marathon was flagged off Sunday morning from The University of Kashmir at Hazratbal. It was to pass along the banks of Dal Lake along Foreshore Road and interiors of Srinagar city.
Swinging into action, the J&K Police arrested 12 people after the marathon. A police spokesperson said some international marathoners and a large number of locals participated in the event.
"The race was flagged off as scheduled 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 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," the spokesman added.
Terming the arrest of protesters, believed to be students of the Varsity during Sunday’s protests, as "unjustified", Geelani called for their early release.