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Real Kashmir: Changing the goalpost in Valley for better, ‘jaldi jaldi’

Press Trust of India




Srinagar, Oct 10: “I learned all about life with a ball at my feet,” was Brazil legend Ronaldinho’s take on what football meant to him. And it’s a sentiment that Real Kashmir FC would probably identify with after adjusting to the valley’s “curfews and cordons” courtesy the ‘beautiful game’.

The first club from Jammu and Kashmir to qualify for the I-League is slowly building up to that dream debut on the big stage when they take on Churchill Brothers on November 6 at home turf.

“We can be the positive story coming from Kashmir. I appreciate the media for putting out the good word. Now it is for us to do all the hard work and shine, we have no other option,” says the team’s veteran mid-fielder Khalid Qayoom.

Qayoom and the rest of the squad enjoyed a day out in Srinagar recently, cheering on the players of an under-18 state championship match at the TRC Turf Ground recently.

The two-year old club has become the first club from the valley to qualify for the I-League by beating Delhi’s Hindustan FC 3-2 in Bengaluru.

Qayoom spoke about the many reasons why football has a “huge following” in the valley.

“Mehraj (former India player Mehrajuddin Wadoo) and Ishwaq Ahmed are the reason so many people want to become footballers. They are our role models. People see them as stars of the valley. God willing if we do better in I-League people will think the same way for us also,” he said.

The crowd at the match he was watching was rather thin, mostly outside, thanks to the weekly flea market — starting from the ground to the Hari Singh High Street.

Inside the ground, the decibel levels were significantly lower. Though not empty, the stands were mostly vacant.

“Buck up”, screamed Qayoom, joined by fellow mid-fielders Shahnawaz Bashir and Danish Farooq.

This got the spectators involved, and what followed was a goal by Maharaja Sports.

“And now you will see the goalkeeper of Maharaja Sports team bowing down in direction of the mosque and thank the lord,” whispered a spectator to his young child, pointing to the mosque next to the stadium.

And this is exactly what happened a moment later.

“This photograph should make for the sports pages in local newspapers tomorrow,” murmured another fan.

It was game on for everyone present in the ground now.

“Because of the cold there are less spectators today, otherwise in summer, and also when we will play the I-League matches here by God’s will, you will see the stadium jam-packed ,” Qayoom, an ardent Cristiano Ronaldo fan, said.

His father was also a footballer though not a professional one like Danish’s father. Qayoom said after long there is excitement in the valley.

“Right now I think of myself as the luckiest person in the valley who is getting to live his dream, he said gleefully.

Building the team up for the big challenge ahead is coach David Robertson — ex- Rangers and Aberdeen player. The Scot said it feels like home here.

Robertson is keen to improve not just players’ skills but also his Hindi and loves to flaunt the new words and phrases he has been picking up — sometimes without even asking.

“Jaldi, jaldi… I use that a lot,” he said smiling.

That said, making football a career in J&K is easier said than done. Qayoom knows all about it.

“Had things been peaceful in the valley, had the administration supported us, had the government supported us, I would have achieved this thing (making I-League cut) eight years back,” said Qayoom, who will be turning 30 next year.

Khalid rued the fact that state has literally no infrastructure for any sport.

The TRC Turf Ground, the club’s home ground for the upcoming I-League season which boasts of an imported synthetic turf, had nothing else to offer for the longest time and is now being spruced up.

The facility, however, is yet to receive clearance from officials as a venue to host I-League matches.

“The infrastructure here has only gone from bad to worse. We have the Bakshi stadium, which is now being turned into an international ground, but that could have easily been done 10 years ago. We are lagging far behind when compared to other states,” he added.

For someone who started playing football at the age of 14, Qayoom, a resident of downtown Srinagar, also spoke about the political turmoil and the “curfews and strikes” that affected his growth as a player,

“They harm your day-to-day life, not only football,” he pointed out.

“We have been facing this situation all our life now. So yes we now know the tricks, we know how to tackle curfews, we know how to escape from the cordons,” he said.

“We had to adjust somehow. Like, here also usually our practice starts at 9 in the morning, if there is a curfew or strike we come at 7 only,” he said.

But that stopped bothering Qayoom and other players of the team long back. All they want to do is shine, and shine now.

Are they in ‘jaldi, jaldi?’, you bet.



Schedule for 9-phase panchayat polls issued

Mudassir Kuloo



Srinagar, Oct 22: Two days after announcing the municipal poll results, the Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, on Monday announced the schedule for the nine-phase panchayat elections beginning November 17.

Addressing a press conference, the Chief Electoral Officer said the elections would be held for 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch constituencies.

“The polling will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8, and December 11,” he said.

The dates of notification would be October 23, 26, 29, December 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 14, respectively, he said.

The dates of scrutiny of nominations will be October 31, and November 3, 6, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20, and 24.

Kabra said the last dates for withdrawal of candidature would be November 2, 5, 8, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, and 26.

The number of electorate in panchayat polls, he said, would be 58,54,208.

He said the counting of votes would be done on the day of polling and in some cases, if required, the counting would take place the next day.

The Chief Electoral Officer said the voting would be done with ballot papers.

“In view of recent amendments making direct election to sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for panch as well as sarpanch, for which two separate coloured ballot papers will be used,” he said.

He announced that poll timing would be from 8 am to 2 pm and entire polls process would be completed by December 17.

Asked about the reduction in polling time, he said there would be less voters in panchayat polls than the urban local body elections.

For the panchayat polls, he said that ballot boxes are being brought from Haryana.

About the apprehensions about security being raised by the aspiring candidates, he said, “Appropriate security arrangements are being put in place to ensure peaceful elections.”


CEO admits media barred from entering polling booths

Monitor News Bureau

Srinagar, Oct 22: Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, on Monday said media was barred from entering the polling booths in the recently concluded municipal elections to not put the voters to “unnecessary disadvantage”. 

Kabra said special cards were issued by his office for the media men to cover the elections.

“The media people can visit any polling booth. But sometimes, they are barred not to put the voters into unnecessary disadvantage,” Kabra said.

In the urban local bodies elections, the media personnel were not allowed to go inside the polling booths at various places.

Chief Electoral Officer said 178 wards were left vacant in the urban local bodies.

“Separate elections will be held for the vacant wards,” he said.

Asked about low voter turnout, he said he was not the appropriate person to put this question to.

“We made all the arrangements and asked people to vote. Why people did not turn up should not be asked to me.”

The four-phase urban local body elections were held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16.

The overall poll percentage of all phases across the state has been 35.1 percent.  Jammu recorded a voter turnout of 68.4 per cent, while in Kashmir it did not cross double digits in any of the phases.




Model code of conduct to continue

Monitor News Bureau

Srinagar, Oct 22:The Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shalin Kabra has said that the model code of conduct that came into effect since the start of Local Body Polls will continue till the completion of the Panchayat Polls.

An official order said, consequent to the above, the following instructions are hereby issued for strict compliance by all the Administrative Secretaries, Heads of Departments, District Development Commissioners and District Superintendents of Police:

(i) There shall be a ban on the transfer of officers/ employees who are connected with the conduct of Panchayat Elections – 2018 till the completion of the electoral process. However, in cases where the transfer of an officer/ official is considered absolutely necessary in public interest, the concerned Administrative Secretary may approach the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K with full justification and obtain prior clearance before issuance of any such order.

(ii) All officers/ officials involved in the conduct of Panchayat Elections including Designated Police Officers shall be under the administrative control of the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K for superintendence and discipline.

Further, all the District Election Officers (Deputy Commissioners) and District Superintendents of Police are enjoined upon to strictly adhere to the instructions issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K from time to time in order to ensure free and fair elections.

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Traffic not allowed on Lal Chowk stretch today



Srinagar, Oct 22: Traffic will not be allowed between Regal Chowk and Amira Kadal on the residency road in Srinagar tomorrow in view of proposed Joint Hurriyat march, officials said on Monday.

In view of security restrictions in Srinagar on 23rd of October, 2018, traffic will not be allowed to ply on Regal Chowk-Amira Kadal Bridge Road stretch,” said SSP Traffic city Tahir Gilani.

He requested the commuters to use the alternate routes to reach their destinations.

“Any inconvenience caused is highly regretted,” he said.

Joint Hurriyat Leadership has called for a march to Lal Chowk tomorrow to protest against killing of seven civilians in Kulgam on Monday.


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Home Minister visiting JK today, all pol parties expected to meet him



Srinagar, Oct 22: The State’s mainstream political parties are meeting union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on his visit to Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday and will submit their memoranda on different issues to the visiting minister.

Top placed sources said that National Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will meet Singh Tuesday afternoon here.

Sources said that NC will be represented by its State General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, PDP by its vice president Abdul Rehman Veeri and JKPCC by its state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir.

The three political leaders will meet Singh separately on behalf of their parties.

Sources said that CPI (M) State Secretary and MLA Kulgam M Y Tarigami, and PDF chairman and MLA Khansahib Hakim Yaseen have not been invited yet to meet the home minister.

Home minister Rajnath Singh is visiting the state following conducting security situation of the state and will attend a high-level meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik and top civil, and security forces officials.



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