Life in Srinagar came to a standstill when protests erupted across the city after underwears allegedly with impressions of a Muslim holy shrine was spotted in downtown by locals. Police, however, suspect the protests were pre-meditated and were instigated by mischief-mongers “as the picture doesn’t resemble with any mosque”.
A few locals in Nowhatta claimed in the morning to have spotted underwear with mosques painted on it being sold on a hand-cart. The residents took it as blasphemy and started pelting stones at private transport and police vehicles.
The news spread like wild fire triggering clashes between security forces and protests at Barzalla, Khanyar, Maisuma, Gawkadal, Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Kawdara, Gojwara, Padshahi Bagh and several other localities of downtown Srinagar.
The police fired blank shots and used tear-gas canisters to disperse stone-pelting youths at more than four places, including Srinagar’s commercial hub Ghanta Ghar.
Shopkeepers downed their shutters at Lal Chowk and transport by the sundown got thin because of the spreading protests. Dozens of protesters were injured in the demonstrations. Major protest rallies were carried out at Jama Masjid and Khanyar against the “sacrilegious pictures”.
The police, however, suspect foul play. “This is a job of mischief mongers. The picture doesn’t seem to resemble a mosque,” said SSP Srinagar Reyaz Bedar.
He said the police suspect the protests were pre-meditated and planned by mischief mongers. “It seems the youths were planted in several localities to disturb normal life. It’s pre-meditated,” said Bedar without explaining who could be responsible behind the protests.
Protests in Srinagar were on decline in the recent past. Even alleged killing of three civilians by the army in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district failed to evoke any public resentment and no protests were reported in Srinagar over the incident.
A police spokesman said the underwear garment in question has been examined. “It was found that it carries the imprints and sketches of various buildings on it which resemble places like Big Ben in London, St. Paul’s Cathedral of London and other places,” said the spokesman.
He said no sketch has any likeness to any Muslim religious place or building. “The attempt to create tension in the society is a deliberate move to disturb the situation by indulging in blasphemous rumors. The general public is advised to remain calm and caution against such elements,” he added.
Protests in Srinagar were on the decline in the recent past. Even alleged killing of three civilians by the army in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district failed to evoke any public resentment and no protests were reported in Srinagar over the incident till date.