KASHMIR – News of a street vendor selling underwear with mosques painted on them, spread like wildfire, inciting local Muslims to attack polce.
The residents took it as blasphemy and started pelting stones at private transport and police vehicles.
The story triggered 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.
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. SIASAT H/T Dave