CRICKET MANIA MADDENS KASHMIR

Valley Shut For Half Day

WASIM KHALID

Srinagar March 30: It was a mix of excitement, tension, disappointments, sloganeering, that marked Wednesday in Kashmir valley as the two arch rivals- India and Pakistan- cricket teams clashed in Mohali for the semi-finals.
Apart from bursting fire crackers by the cricket fans during the whole match, people taking out small processions in support of Pakistani team were also seen in some uptown localities in Srinagar.
As soon as the clock struck 2:30 pm, the traffic thinned on roads, the office-goers left their offices, shops-owners pulled down their shutters and vendors left their carts to watch the match. The shops which preferred to remain open placed TVs inside there shops and groups of men were huddled around to see the match. There were fewer commuters seen on the roads.
“I am hurrying to go home,” said one of the state government employee, Sajjad Ahmad at Residency Road. “I want to watch the Indo-Pak semi-final. I am supporting Pakistan”.
However the real carnival scenes were witnessed in the Maisuma area and some downtown localities of Srinagar. Despite authorities having imposed section 144 CRPC, that bars gathering of more than four people, the enthused fans put TV sets in open spaces and were cheering there favourite team.
In Maisuma, an old lady burnt Izband (incense) around her TV to exorcise the ill from haunting the Pakistan team.
People in many parts of the valley also erected banners figuring Pakistan cricket team captain Shahid Afridi, apart from pasting team photos on nearby shutters. Later, as each Indian wicket fell, it drew fans frenzy and was welcomed with bursting of crackers. However each good shot that crossed the boundary made them disappointed.
Reports from other parts of the Valley also said that markets were closed and curfew like situation prevailed due to the match.
The fascination about the match was not only on the ground, but virtual world too was witnessing heightened activity. Apart from minute-by-minute score updates, the opinions about the players who were playing in the match were also being expressed on various social-networking sites.
On Facebook, Inspector General of Police Kashmir range wrote, SM Sahai wrote; “So far both teams have played badly, there is nothing to get excited about”.  The comment drew some 38 reactions with mixed opinions.
Similarly L T Khan, an Indian fan irked by the low score by Indian players in the match, wrote on Facebook; “Okay Zaheer Khan .You better do some magic with the ball”.
There was also fight between the supporters of Pakistan and India cricket teams on the FB pages.
Meanwhile, a small procession of over-joyous youth left Shaheedgunj and was raising slogans in support of Pakistani team. However, they were dispersed by police after mild cane-charge.
In Batamaloo a small stone-pelting incident was witnessed while at Nawabazaar and Sarafkadal firecrackers were burst near the CRPF bunkers.  Later stone pelting was also witnessed there.
In south Kashmir’s Islamabad town, people pelted stones for brief session as electricity went off.  While, in south Kashmir a shopkeeper was detained and then released after he played the match on TV for public viewing.
In north Kashmir’s Sopore and Baramulla areas crackers were burst. No untoward incident was reported from there.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST




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