Afshan Ashiq was escorting a group of girls to a practice ground. When protests broke out, she wasn’t bothered. However, while taking a roundabout route to the sports complex, she and her group got caught in teargas shelling.
A policeman slapped one of the girls in the group, and when Ashiq protested, he began to abuse her verbally. It is then that she picked up a stone, and hurled it. The photograph of that act became viral, and Afshan was immortalised.
Trained at the National Institute of Sports, Afshan Ashiq shot into the limelight after that picture. She met J&K Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who promised to do her bit to promote Afshan and women’s football in the valley.
Captain and goalkeeper of the J&K women’s football team, Afshan also plays for a Mumbai club and has inspired a Bollywood biopic. She is a coach and mentors youngsters, motivating them to achieve their dreams.
Afshan hopes sports can be an be an effective deterrent to violence, but also believes in standing up for injustice. She told the Times of India, “I don’t regret anything. I would not have picked up a stone had it not been for the misbehaviour of the police.”
The state administration has taken a keen interest in Afshan’s endeavours, by providing her with sports equipment and helping put together a team. Afshan is also getting exposure at the national level and is competing in the Indian Women’s League. When Scroll asked her about her dreams, “I want to play for India”, was the confident and honest reply.