Archive for July, 2013

Will Kashmir Cheer for India or Boo Rasool ? … By Rashmi Talwar/ Rising Kashmir


Will Kashmir Cheer for India or Boo Rasool ?

 By Rashmi Talwar/ Rising Kashmir ——–Cricketer Parvez Rasool  

Cricketer Parvez Rasool

When Prakash Chand Mehra, a 22-year old Amritsari, hollered ‘India, India’ into the hooter that he had made a night before to cheer the Indian team while watching the finest dribbling the world had ever seen by the Indian hockey wizard Dhyan Chand at 1936 Berlin Olympics, he actually had watched sports history in the making, what more could he have asked for, than the mighty Germans conceding defeat to the powerful Indian Hockey team.
Under the leadership of Dhyan Chand, India’s star player, India drubbed the Germans badly to win the Hockey Gold at 8-0, not even conceding one goal to rival Germans, that too at a time when the so- called ‘Superior Race’ belief for Germans was being brazenly flaunted by none other than Hitler himself to give wind to the hate wave for persecution of Jews, the old, the infirm or the diseased. Olympics were specifically showcased to display the German’s superiority over all other races of the world. Hockey, however, proved to be a spoiler to that belief. It also gave India, still under colonial rule, a new hope and unified its numerous contradictory identities, at least till the time the jubilation of Victory lasted.

Indisputably, ‘sports’ and ‘calamities’ are the biggest unifiers of a community or humanity. The decision to include Parvez Rasool – a Kashmiri, in the Indian squad for the Zimbabwe tour may have nothing to do with politics but among his detractors speculation is rife that the decision has been taken to appease Kashmiris. Whatever be the truth, the fact remains that Rasool’s inclusion in the Indian squad has given a big, proud moment for Kashmiris to rejoice.
The 23-year old Rasool, of humble beginnings from Bijbehara in Anantnag district of Kashmir and the first from the state to bag an IPL contract, has finally made it as the blue-eyed boy of Kashmir. The achievement has its reverberations in quaint narrow lanes of the cities, townships and even in the village gullies, where  Kashmiris are hooked to Cricket as festively and traditionally  as they are to  their ‘Kangris’. After all Kashmir produces the best willow that goes into making of the finest bats in the world.
A familiar sight anywhere in Kashmir is that of a group of boys having innovated some wooden clefts and improvised balls to have a go at a game of cricket even in an undulating spot. Such is the craze for the game that they continue playing indoor cricket during snows and rains. Often, they have their mothers run after them mumbling incoherently and dragging them away to finish their homework. Yet, they soon reappear within minutes, declaring to have finished their home-work, owing to their raging love for cricket. Hence, every household is sure to have a bat, especially a family having a male member. And of course in Kashmir, ignorance about cricket can silently turn you into an outcast.
The only glaring contrast of Kashmir with the rest of the India is that Kashmiris would invariably cheer a team playing opposite India and if it was rivals Pakistan against India then it was seen that most Kashmiris, especially of the majority community of the region, would cheer for Pakistan. “This is tradition! (To cheer for Pakistan). Aap nahi samjhogey!” (You will not understand!)  A young Kashmiri Aijaz Rasool shook his head and told me. Aijaz works as a cameraman for a TV Channel.
A young Kashmiri driver who met me is a real contrast to his compatriots who disliked his own name ‘Ramiz Raja’ kept after the name of a Pakistani cricketer. When asked about his name, he said he hated his name and his first preference would be to be named Amitabh Bachchan or second, Salman Khan. Perhaps he felt free with those who were not of his own state to freely speak his mind and choices.
Kashmir and the rest of India are waiting with bated breath when off-spinner Rasool, the lad from Kashmir bowls his first ball or scores his first run for the national cricket team in the forthcoming tour against Zimbabwe. India would turn all ears for cheers from Kashmir for the Indian team. “Rasool is in a position to inspire a generation,” says hotelier Sajid Farooq. It is not certain how well Rasool will perform in the one –day series that begins by the end of the month, but he has crossed his first hurdle and become the new hero.
In recent years, some Kashmiris have taken leads in various fields. Only a few years ago Shah Faesal became India’s first IAS topper leaving a heavy burdensome past of sufferings far behind and inspiring many Kashmiris to look ahead. Not only this, Faesal as an inspiration became a reality when a record number of Kashmiris were able to crack the IAS after his success. Few allegedly separatist Kashmiris had called Faesal names for appearing for the ‘Indian’ Administrative Services, but most are relegating biased notions of their forefathers against India behind them and trying new ways to move ahead.
I also recently heard of a boy who created an indigenous simple hydro power generator and operated it in the Lidder River that flows through Pahalgam. Yet, above all these formidable achievers, a player comes tops. He is the one who has a matchless aura. And who better than a cricketer from one’s own state, at that.
No matter what some jealous or biased persons may point out about Rasool’s joining the Indian Team, it is true that the 33-wickets that Rasool took in seven matches in the 2012-2013 Ranji Trophy season is an impressive achievement. His 594 runs with two centuries too are no small feat. Harbhajan’s slackness means that India badly needed an off spinner and Rasool has made his mark and is a genuine replacement for him as an off-spinner.
With Rasool’s inclusion it remains to be seen-“Whether youth of Kashmir will also make indigenous hooters and holler -India! India! during the cricket tour or will they resort to using the same hooter to boo Rasool for playing for India?”

The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON 19TH JULY 2013 
URL: http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/will-kashmir-cheer-for-india-or-boo-rasool-51577.aspx

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Amritsar’s Sniffers Dogs just enjoy hospitality or treated as extra baggage!.. By Rashmi Talwar


Sniffer DOG

Sniffer DOG

Sniffer dogs in Amritsar just enjoy hospitality or treated as extra baggage!

By Rashmi Talwar
Saanjh

Amritsar July 14, 2013———

Sniffer dogs in Amritsar entrusted with the duty to detect drugs, banned substances, explosives etc were merely having a good time in the traditionally hospitable environs of Amritsar or were they being treated as extra baggage. I cannot imagine them being ill-treated as they were prized trained dogs from a reputable dog training agency of India, perhaps one of the best agencies in the world.

But somewhere something has been amiss and a mischief surely seems to be afoot as each of these canines died within months of each other. This infact puts a question mark on the agencies handling them especially the anti-smuggling wing to whom they are entrusted, for use by customs on three International exit and entry points, two out of which are connected to our neighbor Pakistan.

Before we start howling about a Pakistani hand in the death of three dogs all of them passed to the nether world in the past year, I must tell you that none of these dogs were put on duty of smelling out narcotics, reveal my sources. They were merely straddled around the airports, Joint Check post with Pakistan and Attari border Railway route, to scare the smugglers. It seems the smugglers already knew the handlers and were hardly scared of the canines knowing fully well that they would not be apprehended. This assurance among smugglers was proved true. Had that not been the case, at least one of the three would have ‘smelled a rat’ sometime during their heydays if not later days. But strangely none of them detected even an ant leave alone explosives, RDX, drugs or others. This is revealed through the government records which were laid bare in reply to an RTI.
According to a reply by social and RTI activist PC Sharma of Amritsar, three dogs i.e. Romeo, Marshal and Monty were brought on sniffing duties to Amritsar to check on three international entry-exit points.
Romeo brought in March 2005 died within seven years on 24th January 2012. Marshal was added to the dog squad in December 2006 but on July 22, 2012 he too passed away . Monty too was brought along with Marshal in December 2006 and died two months after his friend Marshal on 3rd September 2012.

Could the deaths of three sniffers in a matter of months of each other be a coincidence?

Sharma the RTI activist observed that “Government of Indian had deployed three sniffer dogs for its internal and external security and protection. These sniffers are trained by various agencies at a heavy cost. Upon deployment there is a recurring regular expenditure on their fitness and day to day activities. The anti smuggling unit of the Customs had brought these three sniffers specially trained by the noted agency ‘National Training Center for Dogs’ in Tikanpur , Madhya Pradesh to detect drugs, psychotropic substances and other threats faced by the country from its internal as well as external enemies.”
Filling an RTI on 21June 2013 relating to the sniffers to the customs department, the details of cases and materials detected and discovered by these sniffers was asked from the customs department. The reply provided by Deputy Commissioner (Anti Smuggling Wing of Customs) dated 10th July 2013, seems to be quite amusing, smirks Sharma. The official writes that as per available records three dogs namely Romeo, Monty a d Marshal had ’t detected or discovered ‘even a single clue’ that which could lead to any kind of recovery or detection of substances.

Mr VK Khosla Deputy Commissioner anti smuggling wing said the department had brought two dogs just 15 days back. On the number of seizures by the three sniffers who died last year he kept mum.

Says Sharma –“It seems that either dog handlers have not got proper training or there is some covert reason due to which the nation is suffering huge loss in the shape of expenses incurred on this squad and the dangerous substances entering the country undetected.
As per the available information sniffer dogs have played major role in the field of security and many major causalities have been averted due to the detection made by these dogs throughout the world. Therefore Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Finance is requested to inquire this sensitive matter and take necessary actions in National interest.” Sharma while talking to Saanjh, said dog squad was requisitioned in the year 1990 -91.

Coincidentally, it was the same year that militancy gripped Jammu and Kashmir after Punjab was ravished by it earlier. And adds–“On my queries of diet of dogs, medical certificate or post-mortem certificate of the deceased dogs, the department has kept mum”.
The dogs according to sources were entrusted with a chaprasi ‘frash’ as they are called or water-servers in the department when they should have been in the care of an educated, dog loving handler having full training about care of the dogs and to get optimum value for them.
The National Training center for dogs an agency run by BSF, trains dogs for 36 countries world over. Hence its credentials seem to be sound.
If the sniffers could sniff out substances and others, during the test period after training how is it that they could not smell anything in Amritsar – a border city with an international airport, land and train communications which is virtual transit point for huge haul of drugs and is notorious for rampant smuggling? Well the Anti smuggling wing has some answering to do.

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