In a bid to wean off Valley youth from the clutches of terror, the government is planning a big push for sports in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), government officials said a day after a tourist was killed in a stone-pelting incident in J&K. Union Home secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting to discuss the plan on Tuesday that was attended by senior officials from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports along with Dineshwar Sharma, former director of the Intelligence Bureau who was appointed special representative to initiate peace talks by the Centre last year.
“It is felt that engaging youth in sports can divert their minds and attract talent. This can play a critical role in getting back radicalised youth to main-fold,” said a home ministry official.
On Sunday, 10 people including five militants were killed in an encounter in Kashmir on Sunday.
The five civilians who died were protesting near the site where the fire fight was on. A special development package of Rs 200-crore for J&K was announced in 2016. It includes construction and renovation of sporting infrastructure.
The current status of the projects was reviewed in the meeting and blue print to expedite these was discussed, sources said. The plan includes renovation of the Bakshi stadium and Maulana Azad stadia in Srinagar and Jammu respectively at the cost of Rs 40-crore each. Scaling up sports facilities in sensitive Poonch and Rajouri is also on the cards.
The government is concerned over the increasing number of Kashmiri youth joining terror outfits. “On an average there is one new recruit every three days. This is a disturbing trend that needs to be controlled,” said a security official.
J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had earlier apprised Prime Minster Narendra Modi about the growing alienation of the J&K youth. She urged him to ensure there are more meetings between top officials of India and Pakistan to end the cycle of violence.