A day after Pervaiz Rasool, 24, made his entry into Team India, Kashmir’s radio stations, newspapers and social networking sites are agog with congratulatory messages and comments.
After chief minister Omar Abdullah’s “good luck and good speed” wish, it was governor NN Vohra who congratulated Rasool, on Saturday, who has invited the cricketer to the Raj Bhawan.
“The selection would not only contribute to promoting cricket in J&K but also inspire and encourage other sports persons from each of the three regions here,” said Vohra.
An ardent cricketer born in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara area, 50 km south of Srinagar, Rasool has seen a strange trajectory to reach the Team Indian 15-player squad.
After a terror controversy in 2009 to boycott politics during the last year’s Ranjhi Trophy to making a début in IPL with Pune Warriors this year, Rasool has finally reached the dream destination.
“The whole day, relatives, neighbours and people from far-off villages in hundreds queued up outside Rasool’s house to have a glimpse of the cricket star,” said a relative on the condition of anonymity.
The festive mood is not only confined to his home town but the entire Valley is discussing the latest feat, unheard of in the last two decades since the militancy broke out in Kashmir.
From FM radio stations to newspapers to social-networking sites, Rasool is fast emerging as a poster boy. A number of fan pages have come up overnight on Facebook. One such page has already got more than 25,000 likes.
Despite chief minister making it clear that “Parvez Rasool has made it in to the team on the back of a very strong performance and his being a Kashmiri is incidental,” the social networking sites are abuzz with comments.
“Dear Parvez, I know you proved yourself, worked hard and find a place in Team India. I know you will be on cloud nine, seeing the fame, glory and inspiration. But believe me you are goona (sic) be used a political symbol, to derail Kashmir,” wrote Tawqeer Hussain.
Many administrators of Rasool’s fan pages found it difficult to handle the barrage of messages. “All the abusers and haters on this page are requested to leave this page. Cricket is passion of Rasool. He has reached to this stage due to his hard work, determination, love and passion towards cricket but haters only know how to hate,” wrote the page admin.
Supporters of the Pakistan team in Kashmir have taken on Rasool and asking people not to cheer for him in case he plays against Pakistan.
But local sports commentators have faith in Rasool and say the barrage of online congratulatory and threatening messages will not impact his cricket.
“Rasool is mentally very tough. Despite the 2009 controversy over explosive traces found in a bag in Bangalore, the cricketer hit a century as soon as his name was cleared,” said Gowhar Geelani, a well-known sports columnist of the Valley.
“Hasn't this guy worked hard, performed and shown results? Can't we just talk about his cricketing credentials which are present in real rather than believe in conspiracy theories and political connections, which may or may not be real? We are not making him a hero. But let's also not ostracize him and think of him as a villain!” wrote Geelani in response to huge hate messages emerging on the FB against Rasool.