Clashes between youths and security forces marred the first-ever international half marathon in Kashmir Valley here today, with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party accusing the protesters of indulging in "eve-teasing and molestation" of female runners leading to the disturbance.
The youths shouted slogans and pelted stones at security forces, who resorted to cane charge and firing of teargas shells to disperse the protesters, police said, adding that "the situation is under control now".
There was, however, no report of any injury to anyone.
The 21-km half marathon, organised to raise awareness about saving Srinagar's iconic Dal Lake, was flagged off in the morning from Kashmir University at Hazratbal. It was to pass through the banks of Dal Lake along Foreshore Road.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was to take part in the event but pulled out of it owing to the security situation, said on Twitter: "The theme for the 5 km run was 'save the Dal'. It's such a pity that politics had to come in the way of that also (sic)."
"Some people tried to misbehave with female participants. There were many complaints of eve-teasing and molestation which are condemnable," Waheed Para, PDP's youth wing president and political analyst to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said.
Para said those who indulged in sloganeering and raising of Pakistani flag were also behind the alleged eve-teasing and molestation cases.
He said the event was apolitical and some politicians had voluntarily registered for it. "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," he said.
As many as 15 international athletes had confirmed their participation in the event for which more than 15,000 people had registered.
Image: Youth throws stones and water bottles after clashes erupted during the first International Kashmir half Marathon, at Kashmir University campus, in Srinagar. Photograph: S Irfan/PTI Photo