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GOWHAR GEELANI | 21 JULY, 2015

Cricket In Kashmir Turns Into A PDP-NC Boxing Match


SRINAGAR: Elections for the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, state’s premier cricketing body, have snowballed into a major political controversy between the opposition National Conference (NC) and the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). After a lot of suspense and drama the JKCA — tainted cricketing body because of a multi-crore scam — witnessed coup d’etat after 44 out of its total 64 members convened a meeting of the Working Committee on Monday morning at 11 a.m. to remove Farooq Abdullah as President of the JKCA.

Young Imran Raza Ansari, Minister for Youth Services and Sports and Information Technology in the PDP led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, was unanimously elected as new President.

Abdullah, who has been at the helm of JKCA affairs as President for record 35 long years, challenged the legality of JKCA’s meeting, arguing that “there is no provision in JKCA Rules for premature election or any no-confidence motion.”

The newly elected body while defending its constitutional and moral position to run cricketing affairs in Jammu and Kashmir from now onward argued that it has full support of the majority of JKCA members.

“The rule says that all meetings should be chaired by the President, in his absence either Chairman or Vice Chairman can chair. But the JKCA constitution allows to have an extraordinary General Council meeting if more than 20 members submit a requisition for the same,” said a source privy to internal affairs in the JKCA.

In another turnaround, a court in Jammu put on hold the fresh election results of the JKCA after its ousted Chairman, Arvinder Singh Micky, approached the judiciary. It said that senior Abdullah will continue as President till further orders.

However, Imran Ansari told journalists in a press conference later in the evening that “the new body is here to stay; our legal team will take care of the legal issues. Majority (46 JKCA members) is with us, we have already started working for the betterment of cricket and infrastructure development.”

Senior Abdullah remained unfazed by the new development, saying that “the new elections are unconstitutional”. He accused the current Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, of “creating divisions between the two parts of the state”.

“Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is behind it. Earlier he created divisions between Jammu and Kashmir Valley and now he wants to divide cricket as well. Farooq Abdullah is here to stay. I’m here. And I will fight it till death,” he told an Indian TV channel.

In a press release, Abdullah said that he was “elected unanimously on 12 May 2014 by the Working Committee for a period of three years.”

On his part, the new JKCA president Ansari said that the old JKCA body had completed its full term and “it had no business or moral standing to continue”.

Earlier in the day, Abdullah was replaced by Ansari as President while Mehboob Iqbal elected as new Chairman after majority (42+2) of the JKCA members attended Monday’s meeting.

Iqbal Shah, Abdul Rauf, Mohammad Ashraf, Javed Kitab, Rakesh and Sudarshan Mehta were elected as JKCA’s new General Secretary, Treasurer, Joint Secretary, Vice Chairman, Kashmir wing, Vice Chairman, Jammu wing, and Joint Secretary, Jammu, respectively.

After the new elections former JKCA officials — including President Farooq Abdullah, Chairman Arvinder Singh Micky, General Secretary ML Nehru, Joint Secretary Idhries Gundroo and Treasurer Ghulam Mohammad — lost their positions.

“Fourty four members were present in today’s meeting while two others, representing educational institutions, confirmed their support to newly elected body via their faxed statements,” the officials said.

Sources revealed that around a dozen ex-JKCA officials, considered very close to Abdullah’s lobby and Ahsan Mirza, owner of an influential cricket club, Amateur Cricket Club (ACC), boycotted the meeting.

Abdullah’s sympathisers have decided to convene their separate meeting on 24 July to challenge the outcome of today’s meeting.

Commenting on the new development Ghulam Mohammad, ex-treasurer of the JKCA, said that “might is right. We have got the election of the new body stayed in the court. Farooq Sahib or we did not receive any communication to attend today’s meeting.”

Ghulam Mohammad also said that the PDP led coalition government had made an attempt earlier as well to replace the JKCA officials.

“It is a fresh attempt to throw us out. Otherwise, the JKCA body was to stay for three years like it had been a practice since 2003, from 2003 to 2006, 2006-09, 2009-11, 2011-14, etc,” he said.

JKCA is under the scanner because of a multi-crore scam, as the officials were accused of illegally siphoning off money and depositing it in separate branches of the J&K Bank.

In June 2012, former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah had assured that “all guilty officials will be brought to justice” but even after three long years the pace of the investigations into the cricketing scam has been extremely slow, probably to save the ‘tainted’ officials, including Mirza, who allegedly wields a lot of influence behind the scenes.

Mirza’s club, ACC, has been accused of using money power and influence to encourage corruption and favouritism in the JKCA.

JKCA had earlier hired services of India’s former captain Bishen Singh Bedi for INR one crore in 2012-13 season while another former India player Sunil Joshi was brought in as coach for INR 35 lakh in spite of the fact that J&K cricket team had qualified for the quarterfinals under local coach, Abdul Qayoom.

Documents accessed reveal that after the multi-crore scam hit the JKCA, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister and former Union Minister, was named as accused number five in the First Information Report (FIR) number 27/2012.

Since the National Conference was heading the coalition government with the Congress during that time the investigators were ‘directed’ to go ‘slow’ on the case.

Abdullah and other nine other JKCA office-bearers were declared offenders under Sections 406, 168 and 120-B of the RPC for rendering the sports body a “lending agency and for operating many bogus accounts”.

Strangely, Abdullah was being defended as a ‘whistle-blower’ in the court.

Because of the illegal lending of money, corrupt practices, club politics and favouritism, the hapless cricketers of the state became the worst sufferers for the lack of quality infrastructure.

A certain female was promoted as JKCA’s media manager without any credentials, eligibility and sports or journalism background, allegedly under the influence of Mirza.

Former JKCA official said that JKCA did not pay anything to the said lady for her services, but she toured along with J&K Ranji cricketers last season and interfered in cricketing matters with full backing of the JKCA.

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