An underwear allegedly sporting a mosque sparked widespread protests here Saturday. But police said the protests were premeditated, blaming miscreants for much ado about nothing.
Trouble began after some residents of Nowhatta area claimed to have spotted the “blasphemous” underwear being sold on a handcart. Minutes later, scores of people took to the streets and began pelting stones at vehicles.
Clashes between the protesters and security personnel that ensued soon spread to other areas of downtown Srinagar forcing shopkeepers to down shutters.
The police fired blanks and used tear gas canisters to disperse stone-pelting youths in several localities including Ghanta Ghar, Srinagar's commercial hub.
The police crackdown left more than dozen protesters were injured, but that didn’t stop them from baying for
the blood of those responsible for the “sacrilegious pictures”.
But the police claimed the underwear wasn’t sacrilegious to warrant protests.
“This (protests) was premeditated and organised to vitiate the atmosphere. The picture doesn’t seem to resemble a mosque,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Reyaz Bedar.
Rather, the picture resembled London's Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral, asserted a police spokesman. “It seems the youths were planted in several localities to disturb normal life,” he added without pointing fingers.
The otherwise edgy Srinagar had unusually been calm prior to Saturday’s protests. Even the alleged killing of three civilians by the army in north Kashmir's Baramulla district some time ago had failed to evoke public resentment.