by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: Afshan Ashiq, the young girl that media projected as the face of 2017 student unrest spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She was part of the virtual gathering that Modi spoke to as part of the Fit India Movement to several sportspersons about the importance of keeping oneself fit.
During the virtual meeting, Afshan spoke about her training routine and the importance of keeping oneself fit, not just physically but mentally as well. She also told the Prime Minister how she learned the art of keeping herself calm from former India captain MS Dhoni who is symbolized as one of the coolest and the most composed cricketers.
“I have learned a lot from him. He operates very calmly be it as a captain or as a player. I try to do the same. The way he works in his life, I believe everyone should function the same way to keep the mental stress under check. Such practices help in keeping the day-to-day jobs stress-free,” she told Modi during virtual interaction, according to reports appearing in media.
The Prime Minister, while applauding the career trajectory of the footballer told her that, “What you have done in your career, you’ve become an inspiration for girls all over Kashmir and India. Following you, many girls will come forward to seeing you as an example.”
Three Years Ago
Back in December 2017, a photo of Afshan – her face covered with a dupatta – throwing a stone at the Jammu and Kashmir Police had been viral on social media. She was seen pelting stones at security forces in the Kothi Bagh area of Kashmir when according to her, one of the police officials allegedly slapped a team member of Afshan, reacting to which the girls’ team also started pelting stones. That is when the photograph was taken and it soon went viral on social media.
Having come a long way since then, Afshan was invited by the central government as one of the guests on the first anniversary of Fit India Movement.
She is now the captain of Kashmir’s women’s football team and also trains other girls in football and is playing as goalkeeper for a club in Mumbai.
Good to see @PMOIndia listening to the enormous struggle of Afsha and get to know about her strong will and how she reached where she has today. As with youngsters of her age in Kashmir the streak of anger, yearning for dissent and fight for dignity was inherent. pic.twitter.com/2ffF5mRNE7
— Waheed Ur Rehman (@parawahid) September 27, 2020
PDP youth wing president Waheed Ur Rehman took to his twitter handle and shared the collage of photos of Afshan symbolizing her career trajectory. “Good to see Prime Minister of India listening to the enormous struggle of Afshan and get to know about her strong will and how she reached where she has today. As with youngsters of her age in Kashmir the streak of anger, yearning for dissent and fight for dignity was inherent.”
In a series of tweets, he further writes: “When cops entered her school & she fiercely defended her safe space she immediately became the face of resistance but was quickly stereotyped as a Stone Pelter and entire national media started hounding & humiliating her as they would with every other Kashmiri.”
Parra crediting the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for the career trajectory of the footballer said that “it was she who stepped in and ensured first Afshan’s security and then her dignity are both protected. A lot of elements tried to frame her with frivolous charges and destroy her life and career. And when she started playing again her life began to take a turn for good. Qualified NIS & as they say Rest is history. Today PM is inspired by her story. Afshan’s story is the story of every youngster. They react to hurt & humiliation. Our anger is a reaction to your actions,” Parra tweeted.