The first-ever international half marathon was held in Srinagar on September 13. But the marathon was marred with clashes between youth and security forces, cases of eve-teasing and molestation.
Narrating her ordeal on Facebook, a participant (identity of the author is being withheld) of the half-marathon, narrates how she was molested and left traumatised.
“I participated in Kashmir’s first ever big marathon for change this (Sunday) morning and I have been left traumatized. As my cousins and I were walking 10 minutes into the race we saw boys frantically running, kicking and tossing posters and banners angrily along with pelting stones.
I busted out my phone and took a short 10 second video on Snapchat when 2 boys around the age of 13-17 came running up to me and surrounded me as they yelled and kept telling me to delete the video — I freaked out and kept telling them not to touch me when my brother and cousin came to my side to protect me.”
“My 19 year old brother got furious at how he dared to yell at me. I kept insisting for him to stop and for us to get away from here as a mob of 20-30 boys ages 13-17 showed up and surrounded us out of no where — they started hitting him with sticks and I was screaming and crying telling them to stop and pushing him and the mob so we could get away from this mayhem.
Unfortunately, it was too late by then and they had shoved and pushed my cousin as well and I was left in the middle of gawking screaming young men attacking and harassing me — I was pushed and shoved back and forth like fresh bait and then 2 or 3 of those teens started groping me while they shoved and pushed me around. I started screaming and crying how dare you touch me, is this what your parents taught you, is this what you do to your own sisters and mothers. They all just looked and stared at me with no shame whatsoever.”
“I don’t know how I escaped, I know God has always been there for me and is with me and was there for me this time as well. I managed to find my cousin and ran to him and pleaded for him to protect and cover me with his arms. He was trying to protect me even before I ran to him, however, while he was trying to shield me someone attacked him and he retaliated by punching them and they attacked and pushed him away.
We were lucky we escaped alhamdullilah, but what about those unfortunate souls that are attacked and harassed with no one to help and save them?Change comes from within. When there’s a monster living deep down inside you nothing good will come your way.”
Following the clashes, 12 persons were arrested for allegedly eve-teasing and molesting women runners at the marathon. There were also instances of youth shouting “anti-India” slogans, raising Pakistani flags and pelting stones at forces.
Expressing her dismay, the ruling PDP president and MP Mehbooba Mufti said: “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.”