Tanveer Hussain

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Tanveer Hussain, a 24 year old Kashmiri athlete may land in jail in the United States after he was indicted on charges of sexually abusing a minor girl, days after he arrived from Kashmir for a snowshoe competition. His indictment came last week by grand jury of Essex County for allegedly having inappropriate contact with a 12 year old Saranac Lake girl earlier this year. He was charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Tanveer was arrested in March 2017 on charges of sexually abusing the minor girl, two days after he competed in the World Snowshoe Championships at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center. He is alleged to have subjected a 12-year-old girl to sexual contact and engaged in inappropriate conversations with the girl during the time he was in Saranac Lake.

The minor girl had accused him of kissing her twice and groping her. Hussain had denied the charges and declined a plea deal that would have let him return to India as he wanted to clear his name.

Tanveer has been running for years now. With modest background, Hussain, a resident of Rainawari belt, was initially into Rope Skipping but gradually he got into running and, as he would always say, one day he found himself to be a marathon runner. Without any official help at any level or anybody mentoring him, he started representing J&K and eventually became a self-made man. He started by winning a bronze. Then he realized that the state sports systems should have supported him. He requested for help but that did not come. In protest he ran for 100 kms from Srinagar to Pahalgam.

Hussain along with his senior Abid Khan represented India in Italy in 2015 snowshoe championship.

Tanveer had garnered much attention before arriving in the US for the snowshoe championship after the US Embassy in Delhi denied them visas around the same time President Donald Trump had issued an order barring travel into the US from seven Muslim-dominant countries. Though India was not among the seven countries, the denial of visa was seen associated with the executive order.

The embarrassing part of the crisis is that Hussain had become a “cause” for residents in Adirondacks when US denied him a visa. They campaigned to bring him and others in the team to the Adirondacks by raising funds for their travel and offering them logistics. They were on the newspaper front pages for most of the days. The event took place and Hussain finished at number 114. Two American senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, who pulled the strings in getting Hussain and Abid to Saranac Lake village also faced the heat.

Hussain was bailed out in March, re-arrested and was later released to a local family, that had paid for his travel as well.

The bail, however, was conditional. Hussain’s passport and visa was held. The judge added an exception, at the request of Hussain’s court-appointed defense lawyer, Brian Barrett: Hussain can be at and around the house of Lindy Ellis and Rich Shapiro, the married couple who paid his bail.

Although, Hussain’s lawyer Brian Barrett is disappointed with the decision but what is in store for Hussain, only time will tell.

Convicted Tanveer, like Kashmir, shall be an embarrassment for Saranac as well.

– Mohammad Raafi

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