How separatists turned the Big Kashmir Marathon into molestathon

Why do we have to correlate even a sporting event with the conflict in the Valley?

 |  2-minute read |   14-09-2015
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Hum Kya Chahtay Azadi: We Want Freedom. This slogan has been in the air since the 1990s, when armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir. Though many have been voicing it against human rights abuse, over the years, the habit has started showing signs of habit-disorder.

There have been stray incidents, in which mobs voiced the slogan to seek the release of black-marketers, timber-smugglers and imposters, or, even to allow mass copying in exams. But the latest incident proved to be the worst.

On September 13, the Valley hosted its first ever international marathon, the Big Kashmir Marathon organised by Big 92.7 FM, a nationwide private FM radio station owned by business tycoon Anil Ambani. Here the sloganeering fuelled violence so chaotically that many revellers took the K-word for kiss-of-vengeance.

According to the hosts, the event aimed at “inculcating awareness on issues including road safety, conservation of water and respecting elders”. While participation was open to everyone, some international professional athletes and cricketer Parvez Rasool were among the 20,000-odd people who thronged the Kashmir University campus - the event venue - on Sunday morning.

But minutes ahead of the prize distribution ceremony, amid slogans for "Azadi", unruly mobs attacked the podium reducing it to ruins, making everyone run for life. There was resistance on every front, all in the name of the Kashmir cause. The "Save Water" campaign was countered with a rain of bottled water, actually complimentary refreshment captured by the revellers and showered on the participants.

In the meantime, the resistance turned criminally horny. News reports reveal that many participating girls were molested, prompting the government to condemn the incident. The conversion of the marathon into molestathon was the first ever large-scale molestation of Kashmiri girls, where men in uniform were not the accused.

A police handout officially confirmed it saying: “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... Instances of molestation of girls by rowdy elements were reported at the Kashmir University and en route.”

While clashes were underway, firebrand separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani tweeted: “There is no point of holding Indian corporate sponsored marathons while most of the damage to our ecosystem is caused by the Indian troops”. But then why correlate even a sporting event with the Kashmir conflict? This argument sounds similar to the most famous unanswerable fantasy from Alice in Wonderland. The Mad Hatter asks: Why does a crow look like a writing desk?

Kashmir is a dispute. But the bottomline of the Kashmir conflict shouldn’t be bottom pinching. Those molested could be someone’s sister, daughter, wife or mother, if not ex-girlfriend of some revengeful, jilted lover.

Writer

Majid Hyderi Majid Hyderi @majid_hyderi

The writer is a journalist based in Kashmir.

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