Separatist leaders and students said the euphoria showed the intensity of political alienation in the Valley. “The anti-India sentiment is so strong this time,” said separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in an interview. “It wasn’t like this even in the 1990s.”
A day after people observed a mourning strike against the deaths of freedom fighters and civilians by the security forces, Kashmir Valley Sunday evening erupted into celebrations following defeat of Indian cricket team at the hands of Pakistan at The Oval in England. A picture popular in the occupied Valley was one of a spectator at the match in London’s Oval sporting T-shirt that read “Winner takes Kashmir”.
Authorities in held-Kashmir again clamped down curfew and blocked access to internet and social media in a bid to avoid celebrations and any untoward incident. Indian army was patrolling in the valley to stop Kashmiri youth from celebrating Pakistan’s victory.
However, fire crackers began exploding soon after India’s top order batsmen fell in quick succession on the final of the ICC Champions Trophy. The celebrations continued through the night across Kashmir, police sources from various district headquarters said. Thousands of youth were seen celebrating on streets in Srinagar and elsewhere.
Young men gathered in mass at TV shops across the Srinagar as Pakistan belied expectations to thrash Virat Kohli’s team by 180 runs at the Oval in London.
“If India lost to anybody Kashmir would have celebrated, but India losing against Pakistan doubles the celebrations,” said a local student.
In Old Srinagar, hundreds of youth had assembled the premises outside Jamia Masjid and were celebrating well before the Iftaar. They had prayers there amid slogans and fire crackers, witnesses said. Police stayed away from the scene to avoid a clash.
At most places the groups of youth came out of their homes and danced in the streets. In Srinagar’s Fateh Kadal and Sekidafar areas some exuberant youth threw firecrackers inside a CRPF camp and the local police station.
Reports said three youths were injured when security forces took retaliatory action. Vedio clips circulating on social media showed women folk at many places out in the streets singing in celebration. In villages where the youths could not lay their hands on firecrackers, they beat drums to express their joy.
The authorities did not interfere with these expressions of joy and celebrations and the security forces intervened only at places where the excited youths came close to security forces camps to throw firecrackers inside.
Reports from south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama as also from north Kashmir districts of Ganderbal, Bandipora and Kupwara indicated that the celebrations were widespread in the Valley.
Though the markets were open and Lal Chowk had the average footfalls, because of the Sunday market, thinning started soon after the afternoon Zuhar prayers. By evening it was a sort of curfew. Soon Kashmir emerged noisy and visible on streets with fire crackers.
Kashmiri Muslims, who traditionally support Pakistan in cricket, especially against India, took to the streets after the win waving Pakistani flags and chanting “Jive Jive Pakistan (long live Pakistan)” as fireworks exploded over Srinagar’s skies. “This is the moment we were waiting for… It is a dream come true,” a Kashmiri youth shouted in support of the Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan team.
“Winning this trophy apart, I am celebrating my political sentiment as well,” Amir, who gave only his first name, told AFP outside the grand mosque in Srinagar’s old town of Nowhatta. “This was long overdue.”
“An India-Pakistan cricket game is always a unique challenge for us. We have to remain on tactical alert,” a senior police officer told AFP on the condition of anonymity. In the University of Kashmir hostels, the inmates came out and were seen singing and dancing. These did not exclude the girls hostels inmates. Douz Ha Marie Koutru Aaz Ha Aisie Waier – you were defeated today, it was your turn, they sang with bands on.
Kashmir has almost completed three of four weeks of fasting in the ongoing Ramazan. It is shortly a week short of Eid. But the cricket infused a new life in the otherwise clam life. Given the massive deployments around, police kept its fingers crossed so that the celebrating youth do not open up clashes with the paramilitary or the army. There were instances of fire crackers being lit in close vicinity of various garrisons within and outside the city. “There was no untoward incident,” SSP Srinagar said.
As the Kashmiris celebrated Pakistan’s victory in the Champions Trophy final with defiant pro-Pakistan chants and fireworks, shocked silence reverberated across Delhi following the historic upset.Further south in Delhi disgruntled Indian fans quitely walked away from open air screenings in disbelief.
“I am shocked… we thought we would have them for dinner, but it has turned the other way,” Amit Sharma told AFP at Delhi’s Connaught Place.
“We had planned big celebrations for what seemed like a sure shot victory for us with the way we were playing and also how Pakistan had just scraped into the final,” Sharma added.
Delhi’s streets were all but deserted after the game ended with fans storming out of public screenings after Hardik Pandya’s 76-run blitz ended with India staring down the barrel at 152-7.
While some fireworks were ignited at the National Stadium near India Gate, Sanjay, a disappointed fan, said they were “fireworks of anger”.
“A loss against Pakistan is always a bitter pill to swallow. But you have to applaud their brand of cricket and their comeback in this tournament after being crushed by India,” Raju Verma, an auto driver, told AFP.
It was Pakistan’s first global 50-over title since the 1992 World Cup.