Kashmiri Boy Loves Cricket, Separatist Mother Says No

23 February 2009

Srinagar: Mohammed bin Qasim, a 15-year-old son of a Kashmiri couple, wanted to play cricket but he had to sacrifice his passion as his mother wants him to live for Islam. Bin Qasim was selected for the Jammu and Kashmir Under-16 team to play in the national-level Vijay Merchant Trophy tournament 2009. The team won their first game against Haryana last month but Bin Qasim had a shock when his maternal uncle asked him to pack up mid-way through the tournament amd return home - because his mother thinks that the boy should live for a “bigger cause”. His mother is Asiya Andrabi, chief of the hawkish Dukhataran-e-Millat (Daughters of Faith). “We are not born for bat and ball or, for that matter, to mint money,” said Andrabi, who is known for her moral policing drives in Kashmir. “I told my son to live his life for a bigger cause,” Andrabi told IANS here Sunday. Andrabi, who fights for setting up an Islamic theocracy in Jammu and Kashmir, its secession from India and merger with Pakistan, said: “Cricket is too small a profession. “Cricket can of course give you name, fame and money. But that is not what we are for in this world. We have to work for Islam. Propagate the message of the holy Quran and the prophet in its true sense, not the way the world looks at it,” she said. How did the boy react to her decision? “My son got emotional. He thought his dreams are shattered. But I told him that you can play cricket as a hobby but don’t dedicate your life for it,” she said. “He is too young to understand this now. But, Alhamdulillah (all praises are for god), he will appreciate the decision when he grows up,” she said. His father Mohammed Qasim Fuktoo, a militant commander, has been in prison since 1994 and is currently lodged in the Srinagar Central Jail. Andrabi wants to send Mohammed, a Class 12 student of science stream, to an Islamic seminary for higher studies. “I want him to be an Islamic scholar… Islam needs a second Mohammed bin Qasim. I don’t want him to waste his life,” said Andrabi, herself a science graduate. She was referring to Mohammed bin Qasim bin Yusuf Althaqafi, an Arab Muslim general who conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions - now part of Pakistan - along the Indus river in the eighth century. “We have named our son after the Muslim general and we wish he turns out to be like him,” she said. Incidentally, Mohammed’s father Qasim had also played national-level cricket before joining the separatist movement in Kashmir in the early 1990s.