Mudasir Bashir Kachroo got call from leading soccer club the day he was buried
Sopore: Seven years ago, on 15 September 2010, Kashmir’s northern town of Sopore lost its most popular soccer player, who fell to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rubber bullets during the people’s mass uprising. He, along with more than 120 youth, lost his life after state forces turned to bullets to control the protests spiralling through the Valley’s streets.
Mudasir Bashir Kachroo, popularly known as ‘Della’ (strong like wood), a name he received in childhood, was a strong defender in Sopore, known for not moving an inch from his place even if someone tried to push him during a match. He would have been 31 today. In 2010, when he was a strapping 24-year-old, all he wanted to do was play for a departmental team in Kashmir. Sadly, he was shot dead in the summer of that bloody year, Ajaz Bashir, Mudasir’s younger brother, told Kashmir Reader. Ajaz has charge of keeping safe all the certificates of the championships his brother played in, now the only traces left for family remembrance.
“Who would have thought a brilliant soccer player, who had won many awards and had played four Nationals and countless state and district football championships, would fall to the bullets of CRPF forces,” asks Naseema Begum, Mudasir’s mother. The CRPF men, Naseema recalled, “killed Mudasir, my son when he was returning home from a nearby mosque”.
“He was not a stone-thrower. Why did they kill him? And do kids deserve to be killed even if they do throw stones?” she asked. “I am living now only in depression, taking help from the medicines prescribed by the doctors.
“When my son was martyred, everyone visited us. Now, seven years later, nobody comes to see me. People move on. Who has the time to care about the pain and sufferings of a mother who lost her young son?
He was the star of my eyes, and his death has shattered my life. I am alive, but I am virtually dead. I died the day he left this world. All I want now is to see him in the afterlife.”
Those days, the Valley was witnessing what Sanjay Kak calls ‘The New Intifada in Kashmir’ in his book, “Until My Freedom Has Come”. Mudasir was on his way home from a local mosque after offering afternoon prayers when a rubber bullet hit his chest and pierced his ribs at Kaushal Matoo locality in old town Sopore. He died on the way to the hospital.
A football enthusiast from his earliest days, Mudasir played for the Musa Soccer Club, Sopore. He had also represented the Valley’s two major football clubs — Maharaja Football Club and Forest Football Club. Hailing from an underprivileged family, football was his passion; he thought football could be his way out of poverty.
As the eldest sibling among a sister and two brothers, Mudasir had a lot of dreams in his eyes. He wanted to be an anchor to his siblings by supporting his father, Bashir Ahmad Kachroo, a fruit seller in Iqbal Market. The poor man fought for justice all these years but has gone back to his small roadside business now, knowing the system is loaded.
“I am following my brother’s case in the High Court now. I’m not sure about the outcome as it has already been seven years. We have only got different hearing dates and nothing else, neither compensation nor justice,” lamented Ajaz.
He recalled an incident of sweetest irony during Mudasir’s funeral in the 2010 summer. While the funeral was underway, his football coach got a phone call. Mudasir was to be picked up for trials for selection in the J&K Bank Football Club. A teary-eyed coach told the person on the other side of the phone line, “It has come a bit too late, sir. Mudasir is being put in a grave right now.”
Seven years on, his family and friends remember him with heartbreak. “We can’t bear to look at his football shoes. His memories continue to live amongst us. He left with an incomplete dream,” Ajaz told Kashmir Reader.
“On every death anniversary of my brother, I go out with my younger brother and paste posters on every wall, gate and pole and issue a small press release in the newspapers, a kind of tribute to my beloved brother, so that people will remember him even if he is not among us,” Ajaz Bashir said.
“Posters on which we write his name, residence, his date of killing and the Urdu phrase, ‘Shaheed tumse kehte hai k lahoo humara bhula na dena (The martyrs urge upon you to not forget their blood),” he said.
Nadeem Nazir, a close friend of Mudasir, who runs the Khidmat Centre in Sopore, said that stone pelting was common in those days. “Even the police alleged that the CRPF resorted to unprovoked firing and pellets, in which Mudasir was killed. No one was punished for his killing.
“Whenever September enters, it’s like a mourning month for the people of Sopore. Mostly youth on social media start sharing pictures of Mudasir Bashir, some people even keep a profile picture of him, in his remembrance,” Nadeem said.
Seven years on, little has changed on the ground. The bodies of Kashmir teenagers still fell to the bullets of government forces. God knows how many families, how many mothers, sisters and brothers, have to bear with the loss. As with Mudasir, seven years ago, perhaps some dreams are bound to go to the grave — prematurely.