Teams for cricket tourneys in Kashmir named after militants

Teams for cricket tourneys in Kashmir named after militants

 Militant sympathisers in Kashmir Valley have named cricket teams participating in certain tournaments after militants, a trend security officials say should be nipped in the bud to avoid "huge problems".

A cricket tournament was recently played in Tral area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district which had few participating teams named after militants like Aabid Khan Qalandars, Khalid Aryans and Burhan Lions.

While Burhan has emerged as one of the most wanted commander of Hizbul Mujahideen over the past one year, Khalid was his brother who was killed in a security forces' operation.

Burhan had shot into prominence late last year after he uploaded pictures of his and his comrades on a social networking site.

Several of 11 militants featuring in those pictures have been eliminated but Burhan remains elusive for the security forces.

Many sports events, named after slain militants and separatist leaders, have been held over the past 20 years in different parts of Kashmir.

Shaheed-e-Millat cricket tournament, organised in memory of Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq -- slain father of Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has now become a regular feature of the cricketing calendar in Srinagar.

However, this time the security forces seem to be concerned over the latest move.
"If this practice is not nipped in the bud, it can create a huge problem in coming months and years. The psyche of the impressionable minds is sought to be influenced," a security official said.

He said before the onset of militancy in the state, a football club was formed in the memory of JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat following his hanging in Tihar Jail in 1984.

"This club would take part in tournaments within and outside Kashmir and seemingly there was nothing wrong with it. However, when militancy erupted several players joined the ranks," the official said.

National Conference working president Omar Abdullah saw a link between the trend of naming cricket teams after militants and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti representing south Kashmir in Lok Sabha.

"Lest we forget this South Kashmir being mentioned is Mehbooba Mufti's Lok Sabha constituency," Omar said.

Ruling PDP leaders chose not to comment on the issue.

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