Srinagar, Oct 27: Real Kashmir’s is a story that will always reverb in the memories of the Kashmiri people in the years to come.
The Srinagar-based football club will be making their top division debut in the 2018-19 campaign and is all set to become the first team from the state to feature in the professional top flight in India.
While the players are the ones who did the job on the pitch, the man who found the formula for success was coach, David Robertson, who has previously coached sides in his native Scotland and the United States.
“It’s been great obviously, coming from Scotland and the US and then moving to India and Kashmir. It was a culture shock at the start, but once you get to know people in the area, it’s all very well,” recounts Robertson.
Robertson believes there is no dearth of talent in the youngsters of the valley and wishes to inspire young kids.
“There have been just two players from Kashmir who have gone on to play at the high level in India, and that’s something we want to change. I can say for sure there is a lot of talent here and it struck me since I first came here.
The last-second division match against Hindustan FC – we won it with six Kashmiris in the team,” he remembers.
He is hopeful about the telecast of the I-league matches.
“The team has generated a lot of interest here, so hopefully, we’ll get noticed. The state’s been forgotten about for a number of years, and hopefully we can change that.” Robersaton says.
After a fairy-tale season in the second division last time around, the pliable coach wants to put as many efforts in the team that is heading for its first season in the I-League.
He says, “It has been quite an incredible last few months for us at the club. We have no expectations laid down as such and just want to take one game at a time. We’d like to compete well in our games, make sure we go in there and hold our own and after 2-3 games, we’ll see how the team does and get an idea of where we can finish towards the end of the season.”
“I have been a great believer in the fact that one should take one game at a time, particularly since it’s our first time playing at the top level. I have seen and studied the level of the I-League and Indian football in the last two years, and we hope that we are organised and play to our level best.”
Asked about the recent trip to Germany and the team’s response, the coach replies, “Germany and Dortmund are big names in football, obviously. A year ago, we took the boys to Scotland as we wanted to expose them to new experiences in terms of football as well as life. The trip to Germany was great and the next summer we will probably do something like this again.”
He is all praises for the team and looks forward to a new season. “Pre-season matches in Mumbai were great as well. We played five games and like everybody else, we’re building up to the first game of the season. There are still a few bits and pieces to add but the fitness levels of my players are great. We can’t wait for the season to start!”
The coach has currently three names on mind that are expected to stand out by the end of the season.
“Farhan Ganie, Danish Farooq and Muhammad Hammad. There are other ones as well but these three played with us last year and I hope they continue to do well and contribute to the team’s cause,” he reveals.
While the player and fans continue to celebrate, Roberston believes that this a work in progress and the club will face bigger challenges ahead. He says, “There’s a lot of excitement! In some of the second division games, especially against Lonestar Kashmir, there was a great atmosphere at the ground. We’re hoping for more of the same when the established Indian clubs come in.”
He adds, “Our stadium’s quite tight and can get loud. At the moment, it is getting done up and upgraded, which will be good for the fans. I’m sure teams will find it difficult to come here and play against us.”
“They’ve all waited for a long, long time for this moment and it’s finally happened after a fairy-tale story. I request them to come out in numbers and enjoy the experience, cheer us on and help us get through. It’s our first season! Hopefully, the fans are also as excited as we are.”
New political parties floated in Kashmir
Srinagar, Mar 18: Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, several new political parties have been floated in Kashmir.
The Lok Sabha election in the state will be held in five phases beginning April 11. The restive Anantnag parliamentary constituency, comprising Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts, will go to the polls “in parts” in the third, fourth, and fifth phase. The assembly elections are expected to be held after that, although no announcement has been made so far.
For the last two weeks, several political parties have been created in a bid to make some changes in the political system of the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The representatives of these parties are either disgruntled leaders of the existing political parties or people, who claim to bring a change in the “corrupt system” of the state.
On last Thursday, Syed Najeeb Nakvi announced contesting the upcoming elections from Baramulla constituency.
He said that he will fight against “increasing alienation” of youth. Nakvi was former Congress member and aide of Taj Mohiuddin.
Former member parliament Abdul Rashid Shaheen, and Sequib Rehman Makhdoomi have launched their party ‘Jammu Kashmir Awami Conference’.
Shaheen said that he launched his part to “give a platform” to Kashmiris to raise their issues. “We have already witnessed violence over the years. People can raise their issues. We have to get united and provide a common ground to Kashmiris.”
Another political party by the name of ‘Tehreek-e-Insaaf’ too has been recently launched.
Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah (Former MLC) has launched ‘JK Bachao Tehreek’.
Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal launched a political party on Sunday – the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) – with a promise to “bridge the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.
“I have not come here to engage in traditional politics,” Faesal said while launching party in Srinagar. The ceremony was held inside a park in a park here at Rajbagh, which was festooned with banners and white flags carrying Faesal’s pictures. “This party doesn’t belong to any particular religion or group. It is people’s party, and I invite all of you, particularly the youth, to join us,” he said.
There are also reports that some independent candidates of the last elections may also float their own parties in the coming days.
Earlier, several political parties were launched to participate in the electoral process of the state.
To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election.
There have been fears that most of such parties are used to ’round trip’ the black money into white.
The Election Commission of India had found that some of the parties were “no longer in existence or functioning”.
The Election Commission of India’s latest data on political parties, registered till March 9, a day before the Lok Sabha elections were announced, reveal that the country is having a total of 2,293 political parties.
They include seven “recognised national” and 59 “recognised state” parties.
In fact, 149 political parties were registered with the poll panel between February and March on the eve of the announcement of the poll schedule.
Till February this year, the country had 2,143 political parties registered with the Commission.
ECI issues notification for B’la, Jammu seats
Jammu, Mar 18: The Election Commission of India (ECI) Monday issued notification for General Elections to Baramulla and Jammu Parliamentary Constituencies.
As per the notification, last date of filing nominations has been fixed on March 25, while the scrutiny of papers will be held on March 26 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 28 up to 3 PM.
Similarly, as per the notification polling for the two seats will be held on April 11, 2019. The voting hours has been fixed from 7:00AM to 6:00PM.
Meanwhile, notification for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections was issued for other constituencies in the country as well setting in motion the high-voltage electoral battle where the BJP seeks to return to power amid opposition’s efforts to present a united fight to unseat it.
Polling would be held in 91 parliamentary constituencies spread across 20 states on April 11 under the first of the seven-phase general elections.
The Election Commission Monday issued a notification signed by President Ram Nath Kovind for the first phase of the election.
With the issuance of the notification, the nomination process has begun which would continue till March 25. Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on March 26 and the last day of withdrawing nomination is March 28.
By the evening of March 28, a clear picture on the number of candidates in each of the 91 constituencies will emerge.
All parliamentary constituencies in 10 states and Union Territories will go for polling in the first phase.
These include, Andhra Pradesh (25 seats), Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya (two seats each), Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep (one seat each), Telangana (17 seats) and Uttarakhand (five seats).
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal will see polling in all the seven phases.
In the first phase, eight west UP constituencies, two in West Bengal and four in Bihar will go for polls. UP has 80 seats, while West Bengal and Bihar have 42 and 40 Lok Sabha seats respectively.
The Jammu and Baramulla seats in Jammu and Kashmir will also go for polling in the first phase.
The election will pit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance against mostly different opposition groupings in various states, including of Congress, the Left and regional forces who are continuing to work out a grand alliance to minimise a division of votes against the saffron party.
The BJP has worked out a seat-sharing formula with some new allies and several old partners, by even making concessions in states such as Bihar. However, opposition parties are yet to do so in several states.
While the NDA hopes to make history by coming back to power for a second full term, the Opposition wants to unseat the Modi dispensation by raising questions on its performance on a host of issues, including economic growth, unemployment, corruption and social harmony.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee had led the NDA to back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999 general elections but he was at the helm for only one full term.
The BJP, which lost three state polls last year, believes its Lok Sabha campaign is back on track following decisions such as 10 per cent quota for the general category poor, money transfer to farmers and a populist budget.
What has injected further confidence into the NDA fold is the fronting of the nationalist plank in the poll campaign after the Indian Air Force’s strikes in Pakistan following the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Modi has launched an aggressive campaign accusing the opposition of coming together for the sole purpose of removing him from power, when he is working to “remove poverty, corruption and terrorism”.
He had led the NDA to a sweeping victory in 2014 as it won 336 seats, reducing then incumbent Congress to its lowest total of 44 seats.
Police Chief asks cops to be ready for polls
Jammu, Mar 18: To assess the police preparedness for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Monday visited District Bandipora and had an interaction with the personnel of Police and CAPFs.
He was accompanied by IGP Kashmir SP Pani and DIG North Kashmir Range M. Suleman Choudhary.
Singh, while interacting with the police and other CAPFs personnel deployed in the district, emphasised upon them to remain vigilant and ready for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
He said that with the announcement of schedule for the elections, responsibilities of all forces have increased and they have to focus on the security measures besides maintaining ‘law and order’.
“DGP said that J&K police alongwith other forces put in efficient efforts to conduct the Local Bodies and Panchayat elections in the state smoothly and now we have to remain extra vigilant and prepared for the Lok Sabha elections,” a police spokesperson said.