Skier says stopped at Gulmarg Gondola for training, calls it deliberate harassment’
Srinagar: Alpine skier Mohammad Arif Khan, India’s only athlete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, has accused an employee of the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC) of “deliberate harassment” after he was allegedly stopped from boarding the Gulmarg Gondola for training at the famous ski-resort.
In a video posted on social media, Khan said he was in Gulmarg, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, for training when the incident took place.
“I skied with two other athletes for the past five-six days, but today an incident took place outside the Gulmarg Gondola and an employee stopped us, especially me,” he said in the video posted late Saturday night.
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.
There was no response to calls and messages seeking comments from the JKCCC officials.
Khan claimed he called some of the seniors of the employee “but he (the employee) refused to talk to them”.
“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 wanted the public to know 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 claimed that he had a prolonged programme for promotion of Gulmarg for organising international events. “But, I am quitting my training and am returning to Europe. I will not plan any training here in the future.”
Appealing to the administration, including J-K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, to look into the matter, Khan alleged it was like he was facing threats for representing his country.
“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.