Chandigarh, Oct 31: Real Kashmir FC on Wednesday stunned defending champions Minerva Punjab FC in a sensational start to their maiden I-League campaign, taking the first step towards realising the beginners’ dream of making the ‘Paradise on Earth’ a “paradise for football”.
The first team from the Valley to play in the country’s top-flight, Real Kashmir FC scored the game’s only goal through Gnohere Krizo’s 73rd minute strike, giving the rival goalkeeper no chance to stop the ball that was travelling in great speed.
The emergence of Real Kashmir and their elevation to the I-League is the most fascinating story of Indian football in recent times.
Formed three years ago, Real Kashmir last season won the second division league to get promoted into the top flight.
Living up to their coach’s assertion on the eve of the game, Real Kashmir did give the holders a run for their money.
Real Kashmir had a chance to make it 2-0 four minutes after breaking the deadlock, but Minerva Punjab will be kicking themselves as they had a bright start to the second-half but failed to make their chances count.
It was a tight affair and Minerva Punjab FC paid for their profligacy in front of goal.
Minerva Punjab made two changes to their starting line-up that drew 0-0 against Churchill Brothers. Nongdamba Naorem and Manandeep Singh missed out a spot in the starting XI and they were replaced by Makan Chothe and Kouame Alexandre.
Robertson fielded his side in a 3-5-2 formation with Dharmaraj Ravanan, Mason Robertson and Loveday Okechukwu as the three defenders. Brian Mascarenhas, Bazie Armand and Danish Farooq played in the middle of the park with Aaron Katebe and Krizo starting up front.
Minerva adopted a strategical change from their last outing as they were looking to create opportunities down the middle instead of hoisting aimless long balls. But lack of quality in the final third was evident as the Warriors were unable to test shot stopper Bilal Khan in the opening 20 minutes.
Chothe was played through on goal and he did well to skip past his marker before testing Bilal but Real Kashmir keeper did well to make a clean save.
Minerva started brightly after the break as Sangwan’s cross from the left flank was brilliantly directed towards goal by ALexandre but the crossbar came to the rescue of Robertson’s side on that occassion. Minutes later it was Opoku who managed to weave some space for himself to pull the trigger but Bilal was equal to the task to deny the Ghanian.
Minerva were creating chances in plenty but were not being to able to convert them. Alexandre strayed offside on most occasions which broke down their build-up. The Ivorian was neither clinical in front of goal which heaped more misery on Minerva.
The opener spurred on the team from Srinagar and they should have gone 2-0 up when Krizo set up Katebe and the midfielder did not think twice before shooting at goal but was denied by the woodwork.
Frustration crept into the Minerva side and goalkeeper Roy was seen getting into a scuffle with his own team-mate Toure.
Although the Warriors kept pouring men forward in search of their equaliser Mason Robertson led his defence well to see out any danger in the closing stages of the match.
After succumbing to a shock home defeat Minerva will get time to regroup as they are set to take on Aizawl on November 10 whereas Real Kashmir will host their first home match of this season when they face Churchill Brothers on November 6.
Highway suicide bombing: 5 more CRPF men succumb, death toll 49
Srinagar, Feb 15: Five more personnel of the paramilitary CRPF succumbed to their injuries late Thursday evening and early Friday morning taking the number of those dead in Thursday’s suicide attack on Kashmir highway to 49.
On Thursday afternoon at about quarter past three, a massive suicide bombing took place on the highway near Lethpora in Awantipora town of Pulwama district, about 20 kilometres away from the city-centre here.
A local Jaish militant rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a convoy of CRPF vehicles coming from Jammu, ripping apart one of the buses, which had 44 personnel aboard, while causing substantial damage to at least two other buses.
Quoting an official of the CRPF, local news agency Global News Service confirmed that five more critically wounded soldiers succumbed to injuries in the army hospital Thursday evening and Friday morning taking the death-toll of the slain troopers to 49.
“While a total of 44 CRPF men belonging to different battalions were travelling in one vehicle, 39 others were travelling in another,” the CRPF official said.
He added that the CRPF men belonged to 3rd, 17th, 21st, 45th, 54th, 61st, 76th, 82nd, 92nd, 98th, 118th and 176th battalions.
“None from the bus carrying 44 CRPF men survived. Five of the injured among those travelling in another bus succumbed, one of them yesterday (Thursday),” he said.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad in a statement on Thursday had said that their militant, Adil Ahmad Dar alias Waqas Commando, a resident of Pulwama, was the attacker who drove the vehicle (an SUV) and carried out the suicide attack.
The bus which bore the major brunt was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying over 2,500 troopers of the paramilitary force.
On Friday, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at Humhama here and was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other officials of the Union Ministry and state government.
Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said that bodies of 40 of the slain were identified while body parts of nine others were collected and would be sent to their native villages after confirmation.
“Nine of the slain CRPF men, the agency reported, are beyond identification and now DNA test would be conducted to identify their body parts.
“The nine personnel are known but their body parts are not differentiable and now DNA tests are being done,” the news agency reported, adding, “the samples have been taken and would be matched with their relatives.”
CRPF spokesperson Ashish Kumar Jha, the news agency reported, said that bodies of forty personnel have been sent to their respective villages for the last rites.
Asked about the DNA sampling and missing personnel, the spokesman, as per GNS, refused to comment and dropped the phone.
On Friday, a team of NIA visited the scene of the attack and thoroughly searched the area and collected samples for forensic investigations. “The nature of explosive used and quantity used would be revealed during investigations,” reports said. (With inputs from GNS)
Civilian traffic to be restricted during convoy movement: Rajnath
Srinagar, Feb 15: Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday helped carry the coffin of one of the slain CRPF personnel after he laid a wreath on the mortal remains of the troops, who were killed in a suicide attack in Kashmir on Thursday, officials said.
Shortly after arriving in Srinagar from Delhi, the home minister attended a solemn function here where the mortal remains of over 40 CRPF personnel were kept in coffins, draped with tri-colour.
Singh helped carry the coffin of a slain CRPF personnel before it was flown out of J&K in a special aircraft.
Apart from Rajnath, J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbagh Singh besides others attended the wreath laying ceremony.
“The nation will not forget the supreme sacrifice of our brave CRPF jawans. I have paid my last respects to the martyrs of Pulwama. The sacrifice will not go in vain,” Singh said.
The dignitaries stood in silence till the coffins were loaded in a truck which went to the Srinagar airport, the official said.
Later during a press conference, Rajnath Singh said that he has asked the officers to review the security provided to people “taking money from Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI.”
In an apparent reference to separatist leaders, Singh, according to news agency ANI said: “There are some elements who are hand in glove with militant organisations, and ISI across the border. They are involved in conspiracies too. They are toying with the future of the people, especially the youth, of J&K.”
“There are some elements here who take money from Pakistan and ISI. I have told the officers that the security provided to such people should be reviewed,” he said.
The Home Minister also called for restricted “civilian traffic” on the highways during the movement of the convoys of the security forces.
“Civilian traffic movement will be restricted for some time during movement of army and security forces convoys. This may cause inconvenience and I apologise for this but this is necessary for safety of jawans,” Singh said after heading a high-level security review meeting.
At least 49 Central Reserve Police Force personnel lost their lives in Pulwama attack in which a convoy of 78 vehicles of the force was targeted. Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed the responsibility for the attack and released a video of the suspected attacker, which it identified as a local youth.
Militants committed biggest mistake, forces have full freedom now: PM
New Delhi, Feb 15: A day after at least 49 CRPF troopers were killed in a major suicide attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the militants have committed their “biggest mistake” and those responsible have to pay.
“We have given complete freedom to the security forces of the country. We have full faith in their bravery and valour,” Modi said while addressing a programme to flag-off the first indigenous Train 18, renamed as Vande Bharat Express at the New Delhi Railway Station.
Addressing the militant groups, the Prime Minister said: “Even those who are giving them shelters are responsible and have committed their worst mistake. They have to pay a very big price.”
Modi also assured the nation that “those powers who are behind the attack will be punished for their deeds”.
Hitting out at Pakistan, without naming it, “Our neighbouring country has already been sidelined by the international community; despite that if it feels it can create problem for India by creating instability, it’s their mistake.”
His remarks came minutes after the Cabinet Committee on Security that decided to withdraw the “Most Favoured Nation” status given to Pakistan.
He then inspected the engine-less Train 18 that has been renamed Vande Bharat Express and flagged it off at 11.20 a.m.
Train 18, the country’s first engine-less train manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, left from New Delhi railway station at 10 a.m. for Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Modi. (IANS)