By planning to leave Kashmir over a prank threat call, football coach Marcos has only reinforced the Kashmir stereotype
POINT OF VIEW----RIYAZ AHMED
Recently Brazilian football coach Juan Marcos Troia received threats to his life forcing him to consider leaving Kashmir. Marcos said he got a call in the middle of the night with the caller warning him that he and his family will be killed if he didn't leave Valley in three days. This naturally caused panic in the Marcos household. He immediately reported to the police which in their investigation so far have concluded that the threat was in fact a ''prank'' played by a Delhi-based Kashmiri student. However, police is still probing the motives of the boy for doing what he did.
Marcos has been in Kashmir for the past four years teaching football to Kashmiri youth. His International Football Academy has more than 300 members. His contribution has been great. He has trained a good number of youth in football thereby creating a larger space for this game in a place where the sport is synonymous with cricket. He even sent three best boys Basharat, Hanan and Musadiq to Spain for further training. Basharat went through a lot of trouble to get the passport. Government had held up the document as his father was a militant before he was even born. However, Marcos and his family fought for Basharat and eventually succeeded in sending him to Spain with other two boys.
Inspired by this story, the documentary film maker Ashvin Kumar of Little Terrorist fame has produced a documentary on the journey of the three boys starting from their homes to the professional soccer clubs in Spain and Brazil. The documentary also follows the life of Marcos and his family, while weaving in Kashmir 's troubled story, along with the story of the three boys, their families and their love for football. The documentary even won an award at Dubai Film Festival.
The point is that Marcos has done real good work in Valley, prolonging his stay after coming for a short duration in 2006 with an assignment to coach the players here. The reason, he says, is the enormous enthusiasm among the Kashmiri youth which, according to him, was not present among the youth in New Delhi. He has stayed put despite the perennial uncertainty of Kashmir , despite the unprecedented popular groundswell through the past three summers, hartals, protests and stone pelting. He has experienced his share of Kashmir peril by getting once beaten by the security forces who “suspected him to be Kashmiri” trying to pass himself as a foreigner.
However, Marcos's arrival in Valley was a conscious decision. He chose to make this place a home despite efforts by his friends to dissuade him. He was even advised to watch Mission Kashmir to get a sense of the situation in Valley. He watched it, felt a bit scared but decided to move to this place, nevertheless. His personal experience has been that Kashmir is in many ways safer than Brazil where your wallet could be snatched at gunpoint. Overall, his experience through four years of his stay has been good. Marcos has been by and large successful in what he had set out to do.
But suddenly situation has started to change. Marcos says he is receiving threats and is planning to leave. News has been splashed all across the national dailies and even on television. What is more, the stories have been shaped as if the incident was not an ordinary crime but had something to do with the prevailing conflict in the state. Thus writes one paper: '' For four years, Argentina-born Juan Marcos Troia has battled all odds in his mission to teach football to Kashmiri youth and channelize their energies away from violence --- but now, after receiving death threats, the celebrated coach is thinking hard about packing his bags for good''.
And in another para: ''Living in the strife-torn state with his wife and three daughters with a life threat dangling over his head is not easy''. The paper quotes Marcos for this statement.
Headlines have screamed that the foreign coach is receiving death threats in the state and wants to leave. The overall impression one gets from the stories is that the threats have not emanated from any personal rivalry or somebody playing a crude prank but somewhere from Kashmir 's, as it were, inherent violent nature. With Kashmir, it is easy to jump the gun. Talk about something like threat to life and the world would rush to draw a pre-meditated conclusion: that of Kashmir as a man-eating place out to devour people who come to help the people in the state. Kashmir also quickly gets portrayed as a shadowy troubled place where outsiders are not safe.
What should have been just another police case, takes on these huge ugly dimensions. What is unfortunate is that Marcos, wittingly or unwittingly, has aided this impression. He has invoked an image of the state that fits into an existing global stereotype of the place. More so, at a time when Kashmir is fraught with anticipations of a fresh unrest. True, there has been a certain build-up to the present threat. Marcos has lost his two dogs to alleged poisoning early this year and brake of his vehicle was failed. Marcos claims that the ''authorised service dealer for his Mahindra vehicle told him that the brake failure was not accidental but a deliberate act of sabotage''.
What is, however, singularly absent from the discourse is that Kashmir can also be good to foreigners. And that the life here, despite occasional treacherous turns and a lingering overarching political conflict goes on normally. If Marcos has lived through all this for four years, one wonders why should he decide to go to town over a prank and allow the media around the world start speculating about the incurable subversive potential of the youth, ''whose energies he channelizes away from violence''.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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