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In restive south Kashmir, cricket teams named after Hizbul Mujahideen militants

The tournament, one of the organisers said, was held in the memory of Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: April 27, 2016 11:57 am
Hizbul Mujahideen, Kashmir circket team, Kashmir cricket team militants, kashmir terrorism, cricket news, Kashmir cricket, Burhan Lions, Aabid Khan Qalandars, Khalid Aryans, local cricket teams Kashmir, India news The Khalid Aryans lifted the trophy Sunday.

Burhan Lions, Aabid Khan Qalandars and Khalid Aryans. These three local cricket teams, which played in a tournament that concluded Sunday in Tral, share more than just a love for the sport — they are all named after alleged militants.

The tournament, one of the organisers said, was held in the memory of Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Khalid was killed by the Army last year when he had gone to meet his brother in the forests of Pulwama, a militant stronghold. The Army had called Khalid a militant and said he died in an encounter.

The two-month-long tournament — the first of its kind in Tral, in the heart of a restive south Kashmir — saw participation from 16 teams from the town and surrounding areas. Of the 16, at least three had names inspired by militant commanders. Other teams drew inspiration from the IPL and the recently launched Pakistan Super League for names.

Burhan, the inspiration behind Burhan Lions, is known in the area as a cricket-loving boy next door and the son of a local headmaster who left home to join the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2010. He is now the most famous face of militancy in Kashmir.

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Aabid Khan Qalandars is named after Hizbul militant commander Aabid Khan, who was killed in 2014 during an encounter which also claimed the life of an Army colonel.

The Khalid Aryans — named after Burhan’s brother — went on to lift the trophy on April 24, defeating the United XI of Tral.

“The tournament was organised by Khalid’s friends in his memory,” said an organiser. “This is the first time we have seen teams named after militant commanders.”

“Pro-freedom songs” were played at the opening ceremony of the tournament on February 22, while at the finals, Khalid and Burhan’s father Muzaffar Ahmad Wani was invited as the chief guest. As he handed the trophy to the Khalid Aryans, a crowd of more than 1,000 cheered at Tral’s Eidgah ground.

“This (naming teams after militants) is the new normal here,” said another organiser. “In Tral, everything has been touched by the events happening around us, and cricket is no exception.”

The tournament was scheduled to end in the second week of April but was delayed because of the shutdown in the Valley following the Handwara killings. “We had 16 teams and 31 matches,” said an organiser. “We decided not to hold a match on the day of the shutdown.”

The Jammu and Kashmir Police as well as the Army stayed away from Eidgah ground for two months to allow a “peaceful” tournament, organisers said, adding: “Initially, we had apprehensions that the police or the Army might interfere. But good sense prevailed and they stayed away.”

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  1. N
    Nation
    Apr 27, 2016 at 2:37 am
    How about a cricket match between Kashmere and India.
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    1. N
      Nation
      Apr 27, 2016 at 2:35 am
      In India a BUTCHER has been elected PM.!!!!!!!
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      Reply
      1. Z
        zeed
        Apr 27, 2016 at 12:41 am
        Interesting how the anger and frustration of youth finds ways of expression. GoI needs introspection why this happens when 'normalcy' is being declared for last two decades. Unfortunately introspection is a far too intellectual enterprise for policy makers that believe in spinal jerks and decisions.
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        1. Mohammad Bin Tughlaq
          Apr 27, 2016 at 10:20 am
          I am against India wasting the taxpayers money on Kashmir and Kashmiris. To stop it there are only two ways. Either allow them to go to their fate or hold them with an iron grip. Don't waste our tax money on these thankless people.
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          1. Mohammad Bin Tughlaq
            Apr 27, 2016 at 7:10 am
            This shows the lay of the land. It clearly reflects the mindset of the people. If the general public had thought that it is improper to name the teams the names of militants they should have objected. They have given their silent approval. The people are with the militants or at least they sympathize with them and think that they are fighting for the Kashmiris. Even after looking after every need of the Kashmiris and trying the best to improve their lot they don't have any graude towards India. If their lot has not improved it is their own fault and not that of India. In such a scenario why India should stick to Kashmir and try to help them? As many of those who write these comments say that Kashmir is our land. It is not our land but it is Kashmiris' land. It became part of India in October 1947 due to a quirk of fate. If Kashmir had been ruled by a Mohammedan king then it would have been a part of stan. Let us quit Kashmir and leave Kashmir to Kashmiris and let them decide what they want. BUT if we do not want to leave Kashmir and stick to it, then hold it with a tight hand. Give army a free hand to deal with all kinds of rebellion. Keep it under army rule till the people are in no mood to rebel. This soft approach is the worst thing.
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