Caught between his passion for cricket and his mothers allegiance to a separatist movement,Class XI student Muhammad Bin Qasim is confused as he packs his kit-bag,perhaps for good.
The eldest son of fiery Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Faith) leader Asiya Andrabi,Qasim was selected for the Kashmir under-16 team for the Vijay Merchant trophy this season. But while the rest of his teammates were celebrating their victory over Haryana in a group match,Muhammad was ordered back home immediately,and told that he couldnt play for the country his parents were fighting against.
I was in Jammu for four days and I had a chance to play my first national-level match. But Ammi (mother) did not agree, says Muhammad,who had spent the first year of his life in jailAndrabi was arrested in 1992,when he was just two months old.
His father Muhammad Qasim Fuktoo,a militant commander who subsequently set up a religious organisation called Muslim Deeni Mahaz (Muslim Religious Front),has been in prison since 1994 and is currently lodged in the Srinagar Central Jail.
Muhammad cant fully understand his parents refusal to allow him to follow his dream. I was playing for Kashmir,not India, he says. Cricket is my passion. After Islam and my parents,cricket is everything for me. I was not playing for any fame. I just wanted to play at least one national-level match in my life.
But Andrabi is unmoved by his argument.
How can I let him play for India? My son will never serve a country that is our enemy. It is just impossible, she says,adding that she has other plans for him.
Andrabi wants to send Muhammad to Uttar Pradesh for higher studies at Jamiat-ul-Fallah ¿ a religious seminary. I want him to get both science and religious education. I dont want him to waste his life on cricket, she says.
Known for her rigid morality drives,Andrabi has other problems with cricket as well. Cricket and Bollywood have become synonymous these days. Cricketers are auctioned now. It has not remained a sport anymore.
Interestingly,Muhammads father Qasim played national-level cricket before the advent of the separatist movement.
His father made a mistake by playing cricket,and he repents that now. We are Muhammads parents. We wont let him make the same mistake.