Kashmir Youth Alienated, Sports Can be Big Engagement: Dineshwar Sharma

NEW DELHI, MAY 08: A day after a 22-year-old Chennai resident died after being hit by a stone during clashes between protesters and government forces in Kashmir, the Centre’s special representative to Jammu and Kashmir, Dinesh Sharma suggested that the Kashmiri youth continues to remain alienated while stressing on the need to engage in dialogue, which he believes can be done through sports.

The Kashmir interlocutor met the Union Home Secretary on Tuesday. Sources said Sharma underlined the need to engage with the Kashmiri youth and suggested that sports could be a way forward to reach that goal.

“Kashmiri youngsters are not just taking up arms and stones as there is also a section which is cracking the civil service exams and other competitive exams and also excelling in sports. They come from the same ecosystem but their reaction is very different to that of the stone pelters and militants,” a top home ministry official who was part of the meeting told News18.

Union government and paramilitary forces like CRPF, too, have been encouraging the young Kashmiris to take up sports like football and cricket.

In February, CRPF had sent 36 football players from the Valley on a ‘Bharat Darshan’ tour. “We believe Kashmiris are natural sports lovers and they are especially good in football,” IG CRPF, Zulfiqar Haq told News18.

CRPF collaborated with Spanish football league La Liga and facilitated a Spain tour for these young Kashmiris. “Legendary German footballer Oliver Kahn who used to play for Bayern Munich, has personally signed goalkeeping gloves and a jersey for the CRPF football league. It will be given to the best under-14 goal keeper this month,” Haq said.

However, on the other side, agencies are also staring at worrying number of Kashmiri youths regularly taking up arms. Forty-five young Kashmiri men have joined militancy between January and April this year, which is a significant jump from last year’s figures. (News 18)

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