The J&K Police has detained 13 cricketers from Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district for wearing Pakistan team jersey and playing Pakistani National Anthem at the commencement of a cricket match held on April 2 at the Wayil Playfield.

Reports suggest that the detained players had applied for memberships in the Khelo India Programme. It is also alleged that the J&K State Sports Council had received credible outputs from some of them.   

The players featured in the clip were arrested on the morning of April 5 but their families say that the police had deceived them. “The cops who visited our residence politely told us that SHO Sahib wants to meet our kid in connection with some routine inquiry and that he would be released that very moment. But when we sent him to the thana, he was arrested,” one of the families told InUth.

The residents of Khalmulla Village said that most of the arrested youth are from their village. “A poor brother duo has also been arrested,” the locals said adding that such they were, “desirous of joining Khelo India.”

In a twist to the story, the locals said that on a fateful day the cricketing youth had also played the Indian national anthem apart from Pakistani anthem. “There was no politics involved. It was just a childish way of giving it an international look and feel to the local event but this government is hell bent to push the youth towards a wall,” the Ganderbal residents said.

A senior police official investigating the case, however, said no such revelation popped up during the questioning that Indian anthem was also played on a fateful day.

Meanwhile, a senior official in the Youth Services and Sports department feigned ignorance if the detained youth had applied for membership under Khelo India Programme. “We were scheduled to hold cricket matches there as well but we have no specific information on this front. You better contact the DPS people as we have handed over cricket related activities under Khelo India to this particular school,” the official said. But the school authorities didn’t respond to any phone calls.

Within two months of its launch in February 2017, Khelo India fever has gripped Kashmir as around 70,000 youth have already been enrolled in the program, whereby the government pays around Rs 100 to the players per day apart from other incentives.

Meanwhile Deputy inspector General of Police Central Kashmir, Range Ghulam Hassan Bhat said the detained youth would be released soon. He clarified that no FIR has been registered against the youth in particular. “There is a case registered against the incident and not specifically against these guys,” he was quoted as saying.