Pacer gets NOC needed for British visa, thanks J&K CM

Srinagar: Pacer Mehjoor Ali Sofi has been given the No Objection Certificate (NOC) needed to get a visa to play in county cricket in the UK after being refused the document following the intervention of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Also read: JKCA squashes talented pacer's dreams of playing in England

The 25-year-old cricketer was denied the NOC by Iqbal Shah, General Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) on May 3 because of alleged internal politics in the association. The budding player was given the NOC late last evening after the CM intervened in the matter.

An official in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said the personal intervention of Mehbooba Mufti led to the cricketer getting the document.

"As soon as the Chief Minister came to know about it, she intervened in the matter and ensured that Sofi is not denied an opportunity to further his career in England," the official said. He said the Chief Minister was keen that the cricketer should play in county cricket and made sure he got the necessary document.

"She asked us to help and support Sofi in every possible way to make him realise his dream," the official said. "I got the NOC from JKCA after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti personally intervened in the matter," Sofi told PTI here.

The cricketer, who has represented Jammu and Kashmir in one Ranji Trophy, four List A and five T20 matches, said he was called by the CMO for a meeting yesterday at her residence in Gupkar area here.

"I went there and met her staff. I gave them a full account of what had happened, after which they called up JKCA president and state Sports Minister Imran Reza Ansari. The JKCA President told me to get the letter from the JKCA office.

"I reached the JKCA office along with the Chief Minister's personal assistant who asked the general secretary to issue the NOC without delay, which he did," Sofi said. He said after receiving the NOC, he had a meeting with the Chief Minister, who also issued a visa recommendation letter addressed to the British High Commission in New Delhi.

"The Chief Minister assured me of all help," Sofi said. The cricketer was invited by Chairman of Easton Tigers Cricket Club to play as an overseas amateur player during the 2016 English season commencing today. It will go on until September 4. Sofi said the Chief Minister told him the government would help talented youngsters in the state.

"She told me that her government stands for extending help to the youth in achieving their dream. She also issued a recommendation letter addressed to the High Commission for my visa," the pacer said.

The cricketer would leave for Delhi tomorrow.

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