SRINAGAR: Amid anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, Pakistani flags were waved at the venue of "Big Kashmir Marathon" in Srinagar following severe clashes that injured many people Sunday morning.

The marathon, organised by the state government's PHE Department and a business conglomerate, was scheduled to begin from Naseem Bagh at Kashmir University with about 15,000 athletes, including 15 foreigners, expected to participate.

The marathon was flagged off at 7:30 in the morning from the university with the participants expected to trudge the 21-kilometre track along the Foreshore Road, flanking the Dal Lake and old parts of Srinagar city before returning to the venue.

However, a group of youths, who were reportedly participating in the event, created trouble by hurling empty water bottles at the stage which was set for flagging off the marathon. The incident took place at around 8:30 pm which boiled down into severe clashes.

A senior J&K Police officials said the agitated protesters, shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, pelted stones on the forces guarding the venue who retaliated by using teargas, pepper-gas and baton-charge at Habak crossing near the venue.

“There was total chaos. No one knew what was going on. The entire event was ruined. We had to run in order to save our lives," Jahanziab Rasool, who had enrolled for the event, told The Citizen.

The organisers said the aim of the event was to promote healthy lifestyle and create awareness about the need of protecting dying water bodies in the Valley. The organisers had planned two events under the banner of 'I am the Change' on Sunday.

The second category was a run-for-run of around 5 km and the registered participants were also expected to take part in the event but it is unlikely to take place now.

"We have brought the situation under control. Some participants suffered minor injuries in the clashes but no one was injured critically. Extra police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in the area to prevent further clashes," the police official said.

SDPO, Hazratbal, Syed Sajad Hussain Bukhari, said the situation is "under control". Asked about the number of people hurt in the clashes, Bukhari said: "I don't know."

Sources said searches have been started in the University and adjoining areas to nab the youth involved in sparking the clashes.