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Rallying around a riled Rasool

Calcutta: Parvez Rasool, the Kashmiri under-22 cricketer who was first detained after traces of RDX were found in his bag and later released for lack of evidence in Bangalore, has found support from Kashmiri footballers who are plying their trade in the city.

East Bengal defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Mohun Bagan winger Ishfaq Ahmed described Saturday’s incident as a farce and said they did not find it surprising that the young cricketer was harassed.

“It’s a prejudice… Nothing else. Anything and everything from Kashmir is being seen with suspicion. Which is bad. We are as much Indian like anyone else in this country,” Mehrajuddin told The Telegraph on Saturday. “Just think of what his parents went through back home,” Ishfaq sounded worried.

“When I first came to Calcutta (Mohun Bagan was his first club in the city), people were more interested hearing stories about guns in the Valley than the roses. as if everything in Kashmir is violent and gory. But now, after playing for five years for city clubs and the Indian national team, I can say I have been able to change the perception to some extent,” Mehrajuddin was talking fast.

“These things humiliate people in Kashmir. Why on earth you need to detain him when you don’t have evidence?” a furious Mehrajuddin questioned.

Ishfaq, who will be having an interesting duel with his friend Mehrajuddin on the October 25 derby, said that once during his Dempo days he was denied a flat in Goa just because he was a Kashmiri. “Just imagine! An Indian being denied a flat in his own country. I felt so bad.”

Ishfaq said when he arrived to play for Bagan people were apprehensive. “Initial days were tough but then as my performance improved I became a part of the city,” he said.

Mehrajuddin said that during international tours he has always been the “target” of immigration and security officials at airports. “Earlier extra checkings and dirty looks used to irritate me. But not anymore. Even in Zurich, while returning from Barcelona, they frisked me for quite some time!” he said.

Ishfaq said he will talk to his friends in Srinagar and try to get Rasool’s contact number. “He needs support. It must be horrifying for him,” he said.

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