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Real Kashmir’s dream run: Coach Robertson explains how it happened

Hirra Azmat

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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.”


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Goel is new RAW chief, Arvind Kumar appointed IB head

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jun 26:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday appointed Samant Goel as the next chief of India’s external spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Arvind Kumar as the Director, Intelligence Bureau.

Both are Indian Police Service officers of 1984 batch with Goel belonging to Punjab cadre and Kumar, to Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Goel heads operations for the external intelligence agency.

 

Meanwhile Arvinda Kumar is the Director, Intelligence Bureau.

PM Modi, as chairman of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, also cleared the empanelment of 1986 batch IPS officer in the rank of Director General.

Both are Indian Police Service officers of 1984 batch with Goel belonging to Punjab cadre and Kumar, to Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Goel heads operations for the external intelligence agency.

Goel according to a report has handled Punjab militancy at its peak in the 1990s and is a Pakistan expert. A mild-mannered police officer, Samant Goel has impeccable integrity, said a senior R&AW officer.

Arvind Kumar has been closely involved in tackling left-wing extremism at the Intelligence Bureau. The special director-rank officer is also the intelligence agency’s Kashmir expert and has been closely involved in formulating and executing the Centre’s approach on militancy in the valley.

Kumar, who started out his career in the police service from Assam, had moved to the intelligence bureau early in his career after a stint as superintendent of police of Sonitpur, one of the state’s largest districts. He never went back to Assam police and continued to work at the Centre, mostly at the intelligence agency.

Samant Goel, in contrast, spent a considerable part of his career in Punjab where he was posted to oversee security, intelligence and the border range.

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Pompeo meets PM Modi, discusses key strategic issues

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jun 26: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and discussed various aspects of the bilateral relationship to strengthen the India-US strategic partnership.

Pompeo, who arrived here on Tuesday night, will hold detailed discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in the afternoon and have a working lunch with him.

“Working together to further deepen our strategic partnership. Secretary Pompeo called on PM Narendra Modi to exchange views on various aspects of Indo-US relationship. PM will meet President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Osaka Summit,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted along with pictures of the meeting.

 

Ahead of the strategically-important India-US talks, diplomatic sources on Tuesday said India met the US waiver criteria for procuring the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia, and asserted that New Delhi could not “wish away” its defence ties with Moscow.

Besides India’s missile defence system deal with Russia, terrorism, H-1B visas, trade and the situation arising out of US sanctions on buying oil from Iran, are likely to be discussed on Wednesday during the talks between Jaishankar and Pompeo.

Pompeo’s talks here will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after return of the Modi government to power last month.

Pompeo’s visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, later this week

 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday said that India and the US should stand together in the defence of religious freedom rights for all and asserted that the world is worse off when they are compromised.

“India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let’s stand up together in defence of religious freedom for all, let us speak out in favour of those rights, for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off,” Pompeo was quoted as saying .

Pompeo’s remarks come in the backdrop of a recently-released US State Department report on ‘International Religious Freedom’ that said mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, are continuing in India.

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AGH militant killed in Tral gunfight: Police

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Srinagar, Jun 26: A militant of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind was killed in an encounter with government forces at Branpatri forest area of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.

A joint team of army, SOG and CRPF laid a siege at Branpatri, forest area of Tral in Awantipora today morning.

A police spokesman said that the cordon was laid following credible inputs. As the joint team launched searches, the militants opened fire leading to an encounter, the spokesman said.

 

During the course of gunfight, one militant was killed and his body along with arms and ammunition was recovered. The officer identified the slain as Shabir Ahmad Malik of Nagbal Tral.

As per the police records, he was initially affiliated with proscribed LeT outfit and later on was part of Zakir Musa group, the spokesman said.

“Shabir, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in several terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities,” he said.

“He was part of groups responsible for planning and executing militant attacks in the area. Several militant cases were registered against him including case FIR No. 43/15 of Police Station Trikuta Nagar pertaining to the planning and making preparations for carrying out terror attacks in Jammu,” the spokesman said.

Pertinently with the efforts of Police and security forces, it was a clean operation. No collateral damage happened during the encounter, the spokesman said.

After conducting all legal medico formalities, the body of the slain was handed over to his family for last rites, an official said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended the funeral of the slain at his native place. He was later buried amid pro-freedom slogans.

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