Srinagar, Nov 18: As Real Kashmir FC is set to lock horns with India’s oldest and top football club, Mohun Bagan FC, in an I-League match on Tuesday, valley’s ace footballers who hope for an upper hand to RKFC, call it a “historic game” in the history of football in Kashmir.
Real Kashmir FC, which rose to fame after qualifying for prestigious I-league, will face a century old Kolkata based Mohun Bagan FC at Astro Turf TRC Srinagar.
Considering the popularity of both these teams, more spectators are expected to witness the game even as the last one saw 100 percent occupancy of the stands.
Fans and experts are eyeing for an exciting game of football given Real Kashmir FC’s form and the successful season of the second division of the coveted league.
Kashmir’s ace footballers, who all support the local club, believe that RKFC will give a tough competition to the Kolkata giants.
“It will be the first professional match for Mohun Bagan in Kashmir as earlier they visited here for exhibition match only in 2012. Our players are also professionally guided and have a better support to utilise the opportunity,” Ace footballer S A Hamid said told The Kashmir Monitor.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo, former Mohun Bagan defender and currently coach for Pune based U18 team, said the game against Real Kashmir could be difficult for Mohun Bagan FC.
“Mohun Bagan is the toughest opponent they have faced so far but the overall atmosphere created by some great football played by Real Kashmir FC recently is a good sign for them. It could be a difficult game for Mohun Bagan as Real Kashmir FC has that ability to give a tough competition to its opponents,” he said.
Wadoo said the game against Mohun Bagan will be a significant match for local players as well.
“Normally, we see Mohun Bagan on TV and now our players have that opportunity to show their talent to qualify for even bigger clubs,” he said.
Wadoo added that the previous loss for Real Kashmir won’t have any impact on the team’s performance in the upcoming matches.
“It is a big league and one loss doesn’t count here,” he said.
Wadoo who has played for Mohun Bagan FC for five years, said qualifying for I –League in itself is the biggest achievement for any club.
“Our team (Real Kahsmir FC) is the best and indeed is the crown of our state. To qualify for I-League in just two years of its establishment is not an easy job. They have created their own niche and every person here should support them,” he said.
Wadoo said the match will have great significance by generating interest among locals towards the beautiful game.
Another renowned professional footballer from Kashmir and former captain of Mohun Bagan FC, Ishfaq Ahmed, said the upcoming match will be a treat for football fans.
“Mohun Bagan FC has its own history. Two years back they were champions. No matter I have been the captain of Mohun Bagan but I will personally love to see our Real Kashmir FC winning the match,” he said.
Ahmed who claims that sentiments of Kashmiris are attached with the team said that playing in front of a native crowd is considered as biggest prize for a sportsperson.
“If our home team wins I will be happier. I have even started calling Real Kashmir FC as panun team (our team) on Twitter. This team is our pride and it’s really an honour for a footballer to play for them,” he said.
Sports analyst and former Director Radio Kashmir, Syed Humayun Kaiser, believed that the match will be first of its kind in Kashmir.
“Everyone should watch the match. You won’t get to see Mohun Bagan in Kashmir. Whatever will be the results, the club carries a history with it,” he said.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.