There are forces that want to end my career, alleges Jammu and Kashmir cricket captain Parvez Rasool
Once the posterboy of cricket in Kashmir, earning praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cricketer and captain of the J&K team Parvez Rasool, who hails from the small town of Bijbehara in south Kashmir, is distraught by an e-mail written by a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)-appointed sub-committee member seeking to “nail him down”.
“I fail to understand why I am being targeted. It’s clear the intention is to tarnish my image and ruin my future. It seems there are forces who want to end my career. The mail of a sub-committee member talking about ‘nailing me down’ has disturbed me mentally,” Mr. Rasool, the first cricketer from Kashmir to play for Team India (in 2014), and join Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, told The Hindu.
Mr. Rasool is referring to the email he received inadvertently from Brigadier Anil Gupta, member, administration, J&K Cricket Association, on July 26, in which he addresses Srinagar in-charge-cricket Majid Dar with a short message: “Do we have any proof to nail him down”, a copy of which is with The Hindu.
In a subsequent email, though, Brig. Gupta praises Mr. Rasool, saying, “JKCA has high regards for your cricketing achievements and wish you all the best for the future.”
However, Brig. Gupta also accuses Mr. Rasool of “not returning equipment belonging to the JKCA”. Earlier, in another mail, Brig. Gupta asks Mr. Rasool to return a pitch roller or face “police action”.
“Please keep me out of this as I reiterate that I have not taken any machinery from the JKCA. In case you have any receipt, please enlighten me…I assure you my support for the betterment of J&K cricket, as a cricketer who has given his life to it,” reads the reply from Mr. Rasool, who alleges “unnecessary victimisation” after a new sub-committee was constituted in the JKCA.
Three months ago, a three-member administrative sub-committee was constituted by the BCCI “to look after the affairs of the JKCA and resolve the long pending dispute between 30 cricket clubs and 20 district-level teams” in the Union Territory. It is headed by Brig. Gupta, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson according to his Twitter account; advocate Sunil Sethi, also a BJP leader who shot into limelight during the Amarnath land row agitation in 2008; and former cricketer Mithun Manhas, who owns the Jammu Cricket Club.
However, the committee’s functioning came in for criticism from several members of the JCC. A joint letter by them to Brig. Gupta demands strict compliance with the Lodha Committee recommendations, “which bars any politician from being a member of the BCCI committees”.
“It is to bring on record that your email dated 26/06/2021 seeking a plethora of information from various clubs affiliated with the JKCA is needless to say is beyond your mandate as the member of the sub-committee and in contempt of the Division Bench of the J&K High Court at Srinagar,” the letter reads.
Brig. Gupta, however, brushed aside the criticism.
On being a politician and a member of the BCCI sub-committee, Brig. Gupta said, “The Lodha Committee does not bar a politician but a Minister or a politician who holds any official position from being a member.”
“Wasn’t [National Conference president] Dr. Farooq Abdullah a politician and a member of the JKCA? These accusations are being made as those who looted JKCA are getting exposed now,” Brig. Gupta added.
On using the term “nail him down” in reference to Mr. Rasool, Mr. Gupta told The Hindu that it was “a proverb, which means if we have enough evidence to back what we are writing”.
“There is no dispute with Mr. Rasool except that he should return the machinery. After checking the stocks, we realised a pitch roller and a pitch cover worth lakhs [of rupees] were being used by individual clubs and cricket academies. We will not allow it. We have many options. A disciplinary committee will also be constituted in case he [Mr. Rasool] fails to return it,” he added.
“JKCA should approach the affiliated body in districts for recovery of any machinery and not me. If the JKCA wants any help in that direction I can try my best but don’t drag my name in this,” Mr. Rasool insisted.
When asked how many pitch rollers the JKCA has in Kashmir and how many were missing, Brig. Gupta said, “I do not possess the number right now.”
The sub-committee is also facing criticism for changing the eligibility criteria for selectors and coaches in J&K, which are tougher than that in Punjab and Uttarakhand “in a bid to sideline many young talents from a particular region”. “The National Cricket Academy’s selection of local coaches for training is also being scuttled by the sub-committee,” an insider said.