Why can't we treat a cricket match as just a match and not war!

The manner in which Virat Kohli dealt with his team’s defeat in the recent World Cup matches and the way he came to the rescue of his teammate Mohammed Shami, speaks volumes of his upbringing

Why can't we treat a cricket match as just a match and not war!

Humra Quraishi

First things first. Salaams and salutes to Captain Virat Kohli. He comes across as a true player and also a committed captain. The manner in which he dealt with his team’s defeat in the recent World Cup matches and the way he came to the rescue of his team mate Mohammed Shami, speaks volumes of his upbringing and values.

Sadly, none of the old retired captains and players spoke out. They miss no opportunity grabbing the space on the small screen, throwing up comments on the game but distance themselves when sensitive issues come up. If only they had spoken out, loud and clear, like Virat Kohli did! He spoke like a real man, not scared of the third-class political climate prevailing in this country.

How one wishes that people like Virat Kohli could be one of those governing this country and with that saving it from the clutches of the hawks who seem hell bent on clawing us to death and disaster!

In fact, whilst on Kohli and the hate messages heaped on him, it gets crucial that these goons are not just identified but arrested and imprisoned. There’s a limit to the political climate getting murkier by the day; what, with brutality and anarchy spreading out unchecked … well, to such an extent that goon elements are unleashed in our midst to halt any discourse and discussion.

We are moving towards such levels of anarchy that cricket matches are perceived as wars! What’s happening to us? Can’t we distinguish between a cricket match and war!

And in the midst of these build-ups, the worst hit are the students. Instead of arresting them and slapping harshest possible cases against them, it is crucial to note that they deserve leniency and compassion and a patient hearing.

With the recent arrests of Kashmiri students, I went through my previous interviews with well-known academic Siddiq Wahid, author and the former vice chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora. To quote him, “For almost the entire history of some of our educational institutions, the authorities have not allowed the formation of student unions, giving the young in our society no opportunity to learn how to protest, debate or even discuss matters such as politics, social issues which are normally discussed at this age. These deprivations were historically instituted because of the atmosphere of distrust of the Kashmiri, which has not been corrected by successive administrations– political or educational. Such deprivations have their own affect.”

During the course of those earlier interviews, Siddiq Wahid had also commented: “Reaching out to the young Kashmiris should be the top priority. To begin with, Delhi and the State government will have to work hard to remove the political uncertainty that is the bedrock of all the unrest in Kashmir...The State’s education sector will need to take the initiative and be innovative both in and out of the classroom. It could, for example, institute forums through which students can socialise, discuss, debate and even protest on issues of various kinds, including politics.

Outside of the schools, colleges and universities, the youth will need to be exposed to the revolutionary changes that have taken place in the world in the last twenty years and there will have to be out-of-the-box initiatives amongst corporations in the private sector, government agencies and NGOs to address the rehabilitation of the majority of the youth who have not been able to leave the Valley in pursuit of higher education and jobs.”

Today, there seem no visible or noticeable moves on the part of the government to contain the growing attacks on the young Kashmiris who travel here from the Valley. Reports of Kashmiri students being attacked and humiliated across the country are on the rise. Communally slanted comments are made at them, some are even called ‘terrorists’. They do not get rooms at hotels and hostels because people are wary of them. They have to first report to the nearest police station before approaching guesthouses for accommodation.

And about three summers back, it was painful to see the plight of four young Kashmiri students studying in Rajasthan’s Mewar University in Chittorgarh. They were openly and blatantly targeted. Why? All that they did was to buy 300 gms of mutton from the local market but that was enough for those beef rumours to take off…leading to their arrest. They were later released but by then the damage was done.

There are no platforms or forums through which harassed Kashmiris can even lodge a complaint. There are no helpline numbers. It is not just the lack of transparency and accountability but an abundance of communal slants that compound the situation. Though a large number of Kashmiri students study in the various universities and colleges of this country, they mostly keep to themselves and move about the campus in small groups. In recent years this situation has only worsened with reports of the right-wing brigades targeting and even openly abusing and thrashing the Kashmiri students on any given alibi.

Young Kashmiris are more than upset with the manner in which their local leaders are projected by vested political dictates coming from New Delhi. They point out one instance after another when sections of the media portrayed them in bad and negative light. This hitting fact also stands out that the Kashmiri leaders - Hurriyat and of the various political parties – have been either arrested or detained or put under house arrest; with that, totally sidelined. Quite obviously these blatantly biased political moves do impact the young Kashmiris.

Landmine deaths in the Kashmir region

With fresh reports of landmine deaths taking place in the Kashmir region, it gets relevant to focus on landmines and their disastrous impact on the very survival of the human beings.

About seven years back, a case study was conducted by Hope Disability Centre on a four-year-old child Fayaz Ahmad hailing from the Kashmir Valley’s Tosa Maidan. And during this, some shocking facts emerged : On May 19, Simran, a seven-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother, Fayaz, were playing outside their house with a bag full of soil, unaware that there was a littered shell in it. The shell exploded, killing Simran on the spot and blowing off both of Fayaz’s legs. On hearing the sound of explosion, the family members rushed out of their home and found Simran’s charred body parts scattered in a pool of blood, and Fayaz screaming with pain. Showing huge courage, Riyaz Ahmad, the children’s father, who is a shawl weaver with limited economic resources, immediately took his son to the city hospital for treatment where he was provided medical care.

Fayaz was identified by the field workers of ‘Save the Children’ in June 2014 and was in July referred to a physical rehabilitation camp organised by Handicap International and Hope Disability Centre (HDC) in collaboration with Save the Children at Budgam. In May 2015, he was admitted to the hostel of Hope Disability Centre and provided with prosthesis. Though with that aid he could somehow walk about but quite obviously his childhood was dented with this major disability.

It is not a question of one child but hundreds living in and around Valley’s Tosa Maidan. On the surface, it is a beautiful meadow in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir but it is known as a deadly death trap because of unexploded shells and their residual material spread over the area. Perhaps, that’s why Tosa Maidan is also called the ‘Meadow of Death’.

In fact, landmines are said to be also spread around the LOC in that region...The fact is that landmines in Jammu and Kashmir come into focus only when deaths occur! Otherwise who cares about these accidental deaths, the ongoing human tragedies!

Views are personal

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