SRINAGAR: Mehjoor Ali Sofi, an ambitious young bowler from the valley, who has represented the state in numerous competitions in India, was denied his golden chance by the Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) to start his career in the English domestic cricket.
The fast bowler has to his recorded impressive stats by featuring in five Twenty20 matches, 4 List A competitions and one Ranji tournament. Considering this, Sofi was ought to be picked by the Easton Tigers Bristol Cricket Club for the Premier Division One cricket league, scheduled to start from May 8, 2016.
Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of the English club, wrote a letter to the British Embassy saying, “We have checked his statistics on ESPN Cricinfo and have viewed his videos on YouTube and it would be a great delight to have a first class cricketer from the Ranji Trophy in our team”.
When everything was looking positive for the 25-year-old bowler, Jammu and Kashmir state cricket politics stamped a restriction on his future endeavors. Despite performing in major domestic tournaments, his very own board, which is under the governance of Jammu and Kashmir’s Youth Services and Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari, denied him the ‘No Objection Certification’ (NOC).
Though it looks like a matter of internal politics, the authorities termed it as Mehjoor’s lesson for missing the trials of Ranji Trophy.
Sofi says he is being discriminated because he was associated with former chief minister Farooq Abdullah controlled side last year, before the PDP minister took charge.
“I wanted an NOC, they didn’t give me. They told me go get it from Nehru and Farooq Abdullah. What is my fault if they have politics going on,” Sofi said, adding,”I want the NOC because the embassy will ask for it. Also once I come back they will tell me I have gone without their permission. I am caught in a difficult situation here.”
According to Mehjoor, JKCA General Secretary Iqbal Shah not only refused to give him the certificate but also asked him to leave the office.
The JKCA official, while talking to an Indian news channel, accepted that he told the player to get it from former JKCA chief Farooq Abdullah since the player was on their side.
“He came to me and showed the invitation on phone but I didn’t give it to him as nowhere was it asked from me in the letter. The player didn’t play last year as he was on other side (Farooq Abdullah led faction which wasn’t recognised by the BCCI) so I did tell him to get it from Nehru or Farooq. I will give the NOC but he has to show me the letter where it is asked from me,” Iqbal Shah was quoted as saying by the news channel.
Meanwhile, netizens too have expressed their support for the young aspiring pacer.
“Your fault as cricketer is only that you born in Kashmir where our own people makes your goal difficult to achieve. We kashmires are always selfish people (sic),” said Aarif Bashir while replying to the Sofi’s status “What Is My Fault???” on Facebook.
Similarly, other user Manzoor Magray said, “Don’t be silly this is Kashmir. At least you must have offered some bribe to get your work done. These people have spent all their wealth to occupy these posts. I would suggest you next time don’t go empty hands. Jai hu”
Many others even suggested leaving Kashmir, moving away and playing for some other club.