Winter Olympian Arif Khan alleges harassment in Kashmir due to Team India affiliation
Alpine skier Mohammad Arif Khan, the sole representative of India at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, has accused a JKCCC employee of "deliberate harassment" after he was reportedly prevented from using the Gulmarg Gondola for training purposes at the renowned ski resort.
Khan said that he was in Gulmarg, in the Baramulla area of north Kashmir, for training when the event occurred in a video released on social media. In the video that was released late Saturday night, he can be heard saying, "I skied with two other athletes for the last five to six days, but today an incident took place outside the Gulmarg Gondola and an employee stopped us, especially me.
Khan said the employee asked him for a license, “to which I simply replied that yes, I have a license and am registered and take the athletes along for practice”.
“He (the employee) asked for proof, to which I replied that I had no information, otherwise, I would have kept my license along. I told the person that his seniors knew me and he should talk to them or let me in and talk to them.
“He felt I was a fraud, but I felt that it was a deliberate act. I know the person for many years now and know how he treats people. I have noticed that, but I did not tell anyone. It was deliberate harassment, which was unpleasant and he kept me waiting for about 55 minutes,” the skier alleged.
Requests for feedback from the JKCCC authorities via phone calls and texts went unanswered. When Khan allegedly phoned some of the employee's superiors, "he (the employee) refused to talk to them," he said.
“He said even if you are a star from somewhere, I will not allow you inside till you do not show your identity. Normally, he knows me very well. But, I understood then that perhaps he had problems with my tagline of “Team India” or a problem with my representing India.
“I felt it was a suspicious activity…
I stood there watching his drama. Then I went and brought a pass by virtue of which I went inside. I talked to his seniors who were ashamed (about the incident),” Khan added.
The skier said he wants the everyone to be aware of the fact that, “we (athletes) work very hard, and through us the world comes to know about our land, our people, but, it is disappointing that we have to witness this situation in return, which demoralises us”.
“What message does it send to the youth whom I try to encourage for taking up sports,” he said.
Khan said the employees “in their defence will say that such people travel without a ticket”. “However, I always take permission from their seniors who know me,” he added.
The skier stated that he wants the general public to be aware of his extensive marketing of Gulmarg for hosting international competitions. So I'm stopping my training and going back to Europe. In the future, I won't schedule any training sessions here.
Khan pleaded with the government, particularly J-K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, to look into the situation and claimed he felt threatened for standing up for his nation.
“I felt that I had to face this because I represent India. So, I request the administration, including the LG, that should we discontinue sports in this situation as it is like I am facing threats for representing my country. Please check the reality of this matter. They will say anything in their defence, but no one is ready to tell the truth here. Please look into this matter as soon as possible,” he said.