New Delhi: In an attempt to keep the youngsters in the Jammu and Kashmir from getting misled by radical elements, the Narendra Modi government is preparing a comprehensive plan to engage the young Kashmiris in sports.
Ten days ago, Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting during which he directed the Union Sports Ministry to prepare a comprehensive plan to engage the young people of Kashmir in sports.
"In 2014-15, we have had 79 sports leagues in different parts of Kashmir. Thousands of players have participated and tens of thousands have watched as spectators. So these are engagement initiatives. Then there are specific empowerment initiatives, capacity building initiatives in terms of taking them on very focused tours, ” Lt. Gen Subrat Saha told PTI.
“The only way we are going to keep people away from this so-called glamorisation (militancy) is to firstly keep them very nicely engaged,” Saha added.
Cricket and football have been identified as the two most popular sports in the state.
"Sports would be a good way to positively motivate the youth... In our first budget, under the leadership of PM Modi, Rs. 200 crore was allocated to Jammu and Kashmir. This shows the Centre's special interest in Kashmir," Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was quoted as saying to NDTV.
The ministry is now planning to upgrade the different stadia and training facilities in the state. It will also organise talent hunts and competitions in the state to include local talent.
Most importantly, it would provide exposure to players from the state by sponsoring them to participate at national sporting events.
"The move will help these youngsters from Kashmir explore the rest of their country and will help in integrating," said a senior government official.
During the protests of 2010, which witnessed a lot of anger spilling onto the streets of the Valley, a Parliamentary delegation had suggested that encouraging sports would be a good way to connect with and engage the young people.