A Can of Worms

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With the cricket players from Kashmir region refusing to participate in the ongoing Ranji Trophy and allegations flying high over partisan selection by J&K’s Chief Cricket Coach, BS Bedi, it is only the game that has suffered as a result of politics at JKCA, Bilal Handoo reports.

The financial bungling in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) and the ongoing tug of war between players from Kashmir and JK Chief Cricket Coach, Bishen Singh Bedi which led to the resignation of treasurer of JKCA, Manzoor Wazir has bought out the mud within the association. Though his resignation was turned down by JKCA President, Farooq Abdullah, the chaos inside the state’s apex cricketing body refuses to die down.

Recently, several players from Kashmir, including its captain, Samiullah Beigh, joined the rebels when they refused to represent the team and alleged that Bedi was favoring players from Jammu. “Soon after the team was announced, players from Kashmir region came to us expressing their resentment. But we told them that it is decision of selectors and we as officials can’t do anything,” Manzoor Wazir told Kashmir Life.

The selection panel of JKCA comprises of four members out of which two hail from Jammu and two from Kashmir. The recent selection was made by only three as fourth member from Kashmir opted out, citing differences with other members. Wazir said the players were unhappy over Beigh been appointed as skipper only for one match and not for the whole series.

“They should understand that selectors have been opting for match by match policy and they did this with junior level as well.” Miffed over the uncertainty shrouding his role as a captain, Beigh alleged Bedi was creating a rift in the team. “I respect his stature but he wants only Jammu players in the side,” he said.

“The statusquo is prevailing in JKCA and we are not able to do anything. Even players are not able to enjoy any facilities of JKCA which they deserve,” Wazir said. Ridden with scams, the JKCA is now finding itself caught in anarchy. There is no general secretary. Powers have been taken away from the chairman. Chief administrative officer is also out and Dr Abdullah remains busy with his ministry.

“In their absence, all the works have suffered. We are not able to take any decision about developmental works and the welfare of players,” the treasurer added.

Earlier this year, controversy gripped JKCA when Muhammad Aslam Goni, the JKCA managing committee chairman, lodged an FIR with the police on March 10 against Ahsan Mirza and Mohammad Saleem Khan – the JKCA general secretary and chief administrative officer respectively – accusing the duo of pushing the BCCI funds into bogus bank accounts created in the name of the association.

But on March 21, Goni himself was dragged into the controversy when majority of the 62 JKCA working committee members claimed Goni, too, was involved in the scam and demanded his resignation. In his defense, Mirza said he was being victimized by certain vested interests.

This was followed by revelations by former JKCA treasurer, Mir Manzoor Gazanfar, who resigned as the treasurer of JKCA in 2008 that Abdullah visited his hotel in Srinagar and made him sign blank cheques. Abdullah said the charges against him are ‘politically motivated’. “I never asked ex-treasurers to sign any cheques,” he said, “I have never handled money, I am open to any investigation.”

In the wake of the widespread allegations of embezzlement of the BCCI grants, the Indian board decided to take action and asked its auditors to investigate the matter and prepare a detailed report on the situation.

In June this year, the stalled cricket activities by JKCA made 200 to 300 hundred cricketers of valley to hit the streets. “We are not protesting against any one in JKCA but we want resumption of activities at earliest. Since the scandal hit JKCA, cricket has suffered a lot and not a single activity has been organized,” said well-known cricketer of J&K, Abid Nabi.

Meanwhile, taking action against the players who boycotted the J&K Ranji trophy match against Andra Pradesh recently, Dr Abdullah barred two players from joining JK team for the upcoming Ranji trophy tie against Kerala. The two players, ex-skipper, Samiullah Beigh, and Majid Dar were supposed to join JK team for the Kerala match after striking the peace deal with JKCA.

After negotiations, junior players joined squad for the fourth match while senior players like Samiullah and Majid continued on strike. “It was the same Kashmir based lobby that encouraged players to go on boycott and now the same lobby is playing politics with them,” sources said.

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