Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Srinagar, April 4 (Only Kashmir): The army is banking on cricket to remake its image in Kashmir.
After India’s World Cup win, the army has decided to launch a Kashmir Premier League in the coming summer, apparently to win over Kashmiri hearts.
The army’s Kashmir chief, Lt. Gen S.A. Hasnain, said the tournament would be launched in consultation with the state administration after April.
Jammu and Kashmir has faced three successive summers of unrest, and the government is trying hard to prevent a repeat this year.
Lt. Gen Hasnain said one or two teams would be selected from every district in Kashmir.
“We will nurture local talent and after screening the prospects, they will be sent to the best national academies, duly sponsored by the army,” he said.
The army had in the past organised some local cricket tournaments but this is the first time it will involve all 10 districts in the Valley.
The men in uniform are often blamed for committing grave human rights abuses in Kashmir and the corps commander’s announcement came in the same area where the troops killed four teenagers who were playing cricket in February 2006.
The state government had ordered a judicial inquiry, which failed to make any headway because of the army’s non-cooperation.
There are growing demands from both mainstream and separatist politicians to withdraw the special powers enjoyed by the forces and reduce their footprint in the state.
The army’s corps commander said he was eager to see a Kashmiri in the national team by next year, aware that no Kashmiri cricketer has ever achieved this feat.
People in Kashmir, like any other place in the country, are enormously fond of cricket but only a few cheer the men in blue.
The army, which had decided to set up big screens to show the India-Pakistan semi-final last week, had to cancel the public screening at the police’s bidding.
Jammu and Kashmir police feared that it might lead to an embarrassing situation for the government and the army or even lead to clashes with the people, who often openly express their support for the Pakistani team.
Kashmir was perhaps the only place in the country where there was hardly any celebration after Team India’s triumph.


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