Srinagar: The national anthem of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) was played at the start of a cricket match in a stadium in south Kashmir’s Pulwama on Sunday. The “opening ceremony” of the match, which was the final of a cricket tournament, was streamed live on Facebook. The video shows members of the two teams, Shining Star Pampore and Pulwama Tigers, lined up as the Azad Kashmir anthem plays. All the players are seen in blue jerseys.
The Pulwama stadium where the match was played is adjacent to the Degree College Pulwama, which has been at the centre of the ongoing student protests in the Valley. The stadium is also close to Karimabad village, a militant stronghold in Pulwama district. A cricket player who was present at the stadium said, “This is not something extraordinary or rare. This happens at most places during sports events, especially cricket tournaments. It becomes news only when the videos are circulated or posted on Facebook”.
The incident comes a month-and-a-half after two local cricket teams played Pakistan’s national anthem before starting a match in central Kashmir’s Kangan district. Soon after the video, in which one of the teams wore Pakistan cricket team jerseys, was posted online, the state swung into action and arrested players from both the teams.