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MLAs bat for release of cricketers held for playing Pak anthem

Congress legislator Usman Majeed and Independent MLA Engineer Rashid today strongly raised in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly the issue of four cricketers being detained for allegedly playing the Pakistani national anthem before a cricket match in Bandipora district on Sunday.

Majeed urged the state government to “pardon” the young cricketers, while Rashid tried to defend them and protested in the House. Rashid was subsequently marshalled out of the House.

“I say sorry on their behalf in the House,” Majeed said.

“They should be pardoned and cases against them should be withdrawn, as the government has withdrawn cases against stone pelters… We want our youth to take a positive direction,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested the four cricketers after a video surfaced on the Internet, purportedly showing the young men playing Pakistan’s national anthem ahead of a match.

Speaking to reporters later, Majeed strongly batted for their release. He said the cricketers might have acted under pressure from mischievous elements during the cricket match.

“The police is after them. Some of them are in jail and others are on the run as media has given a lot of attention… I have raised the issue before the government to pardon them,” he said.

Raising the issue, MLA Rashid protested in the House and was soon marshaled out of the Assembly on the direction of the Speaker.

Later, he told reporters that his colleague in the House, Majeed, should not have apologised for the cricketers.

“Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had been seeking votes for last eight years by displaying green clothes. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed thanked Pakistan and militants for his victory in the elections. An FIR should be registered against Mehbooba Mufti if you have registered FIR against the cricketers,” Rashid said.

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