Cricket is a win or lose game. And quite a lot of people are admirers of this majestic game. This game is also meant for heartbreak and last minute tilts. I still remember the South Africa vs New Zealand match in a previous world cup. Till the final moment nobody could predict the winning team. What a game that was!
Supporters of respective countries always support their team, but when we talk about Kashmiris, whom should they support? For Indians, that team should be India. But if India is saying that “Kashmir is an integral part of India” then why do Kashmiris always support their opponents? Why do Kashmiri students, who are studying outside the Valley, often get thrown out of their colleges, if they are an integral part of Kashmir? The craze for cricket in Kashmir is a constant. We enjoy the game at the international level, and also completely enjoy matches between a team of our own mohalla and another mohalla.
But when it comes to international matches, the masses here watch attentively, particularly when the match is between India and Pakistan. On this day, markets remain closed, students hardly go to schools, and government offices remains silent. And when it comes to giving moral support to your favorite team, the people of oppressed Kashmir always support the Pakistan team. If Kashmir is an “integral part”, then we must corroborate it, even when we might have a fellow who represents Kashmir in an Indian team. Yet, India doesn’t get any support from Kashmir. Is it because we are illegally occupied by them?
I still remember the previous series between India and Pakistan when India lost the series against Pakistan in their own country. How Kashmiris relished the victory of Pakistan! Social networking sites were flooded with the news of India’s loss. The sounds of firecrackers reverberated from every corner of Kashmir. I still remember my mother spreading the prayer rug and continuously praying for Pakistan’s victory. Whenever the cameraman focused on Afridi, my mother used to pray harder and even kissed the TV screen: because Afridi resembles my mother’s lost brother. Simply, it was a special moment for me and for my mother when Pakistan won the game.
In our mohalla, we have two renowned supporters of cricket who love to watch every match of any team. And they have been doing this for ages. Their names are Mohammad Jamaal and Abdul Ahad. We call them Jamaal Kak and Ahad Kak. When India lost that series against Pakistan, Jamaal Kak distributed sweets in our mohalla and Ahad Kak used up a lot of firecrackers. What a moment that was. “Aaz kyasa kehmoo bareth batte,” (Today, I will eat a lot of rice) said Jamaal Kak, and Ahad Kak said, “Aaz kyasa eiei araamech nindir” (Tonight, I can enjoy my sleep).
They also have an opinion on Kashmir being an ‘integral part’ of India. Jamaal Kak always used to say, “Yemov kor aess peth hameshe zulum” (They have always oppressed us), then how can we support them? Once, he told me a tale. He had gone to his relative’s house in Sopore, in the ’90s. During nights, raids were common in every part of Kashmir, and it also happened in the house of Jamaal Kak’s relatives that night. “It was around 2am when the army knocked on the door of the house,” he said, “we opened the door, and the army searched every room of our house. Then, after half an hour they called me and the head of the house. I knew the goons would beat me and they beat us ruthlessly.” How we can support them, he said, when we know we are illegally occupied by them?
Something similar happened with Ahad Kak. He is, by profession, an apple grower. He still remembers, it seems, as he relates the events of that day, during the season of plucking the apples: “I went to the garden with my children. After completing half of our work, an army battalion came towards the other side of our garden. I was surprised as I didn’t see them coming. At the same time, my children got frightened. After some time, they entered our garden and plucked the apples from the trees, just like that. Their commander called me and smacked me, saying ‘you are working for militants’. My children began to shout and one of the army men pointed a gun at them. Even as their commander hammered me with his weapon, I continuously told them, “Sahib, mein koi atankwadi nahi hun na unkey liye kaam karta hun” (Sir, neither am I a terrorist nor working for them). But they beat me ruthlessly, and then they threw me on the ground and left. When they left, my children held me and gave me water, which I couldn’t drink properly. And still I can’t get rid of the back pain due to that brutal beating. Now, how can we support them? This has not only happened with me, it happened with many other Kashmiris and will go on happening with every person of Kashmir, unless and until we don’t get freedom from India. These ruthless persons have to leave our oppressed land.”
Recently, Pakistan lost their Asia Cup T-20 match against India; and words can’t explain the deplorable feelings of Jamaal Kak and Ahad Kak. As they said, “It seems to us we lost a crucial battle of our life”. They say Pakistan is the only nation that always supports our struggle, otherwise India would have committed even more atrocities.
We have lost a lot of people, the two of them say. It’s time for Kashmiri leaders to unite and strive for the right to self-determination, says Jamaal Kak, and Ahad Kak nods in agreement.
—The writer is a student at Kashmir University