The entry of Parvez Rasool into the Indian cricket squad should be celebrated, but that’s not only because he is the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to do so. Instead, let’s celebrate Rasool’s amazing ability to keep his eye on the ball despite the unexpected bouncers that have come his way in life. If playing and making his way up the cricketing ladder from Bijbehara village in south Kashmir wasn’t difficult enough, his 2009 experience with the Karnataka Police and then his comeback is also awe-inspiring stuff. He was detained by the police for being allegedly involved in a terrorist attack but was later released after forensic investigation cleared his name. The incident could have pushed him to take a wrong turn, but he managed to avoid that.
While we celebrate Rasool’s achievement and the way he negotiated political and psychological hurdles to achieve what he has, let’s not forget those who have fallen through the cracks. In 2009, the same year Rasool was arrested in Bangalore, a Class 11 student, Muhammad Bin Qasim, was selected for the Kashmir under-16 team for the Vijay Merchant trophy. But the young lad was denied that chance by his mother Dukhtaran-e-Millat leader Asiya Andrabi.
In the last few years, there have been many positive developments in Kashmir: there was Shah Faesal who topped the civil service examination, a couple of young entrepreneurs who have gone back to the state to start their own ventures, and recently the story of a 23-year-old computer engineer Mehvish Mushtaq who has become the first Kashmiri to develop an Android application, a one-stop source for government contacts.
We must celebrate these young people and their aspirations and achievements instead of letting politicians with vested interests and so-called liberation struggle fighters hijack the Kashmir story. Achievers like Rasool and Mushtaq are the ones who can encourage the young of the state to be an active part of the India story.