Shiganpora (Bandipora): Otherwise forgotten, this village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district has seen an increase in public footfall from the day Manzoor Ahmad Dar was selected to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The mood in the village is festive with sweets being distributed among visitors who keep coming to congratulate the Dar family.
Manzoor Ahmad Dar, known among his peers as Pandav, will play for Kings XI Punjab in this year’s IPL. He was bought by Kings XI against his base price of Rs 20 lakh. Soon after the news of his selection reached this sleepy village, residents erupted in joy distributing sweets among each other.
Manzoor’s friend, 32-year-old Syed Bilal, likens his friend’s achievement to a “rose blooming out of thorns”.
Bilal said that Manzoor’s hard work has brought recognition to this small village consisting of 90 households, which otherwise was unknown to the rest of the world and forgotten by the administration.
Manzoor’s mother, Misra Begum, looked happy but spoke mostly of the hardships her son faced in life.
“We lived a life of penury. We could hardly support him financially. He worked as a woodcutter and as a security guard to meet his expenses,” she said.
Pandav grew famous in state cricket circles for his big-hitting ability and strong physique. “Manzoor is a man of many talents: a weightlifter, Kabaddi player, woodcutter and a security guard, but his passion has always been cricket,” his friends said.
After passing Class 12, Manzoor, being an elder son of the family, joined his father and took the responsibility to take care of his seven younger siblings. He started working as a woodcutter for a paltry sum of Rs 60 a day, his father Mukhtar Ahmad Dar, a labourer, said. Later he worked as a security guard doing night duty in Srinagar’s Fairdeal Complex, his father told Kashmir Reader.
Manzoor’s impoverished native village lacked a playground, prompting him to play cricket in open paddy fields. Manzoor gradually honed his skills playing cricket with counterparts from Sumbal village.
“They would take him in their own vehicles from his home to Srinagar to play cricket”, said Bilal. He added that the village lacked basic amenities such as roads, power supply and had erratic cellular services. “But these things did not stop Manzoor from achieving his dream,” he said.
While playing for the state, Manzoor worked as a night watchman, said his father. “My financial conditions were not sufficient to realise his dream, but I never discouraged him from achieving what he dreamt of,” Mukhtar said.