In past five months of unrest in Kashmir students and young children faced the maximum burnt not only physically but mentally as well. The youths in Valley not only became the victim of security forces as they faced pellets and bullets but they also became target of unending separatist calendars as the schools couldn’t be opened due to long shutdowns and strikes. Even under these stressing times there has been a glimmer of hope in a shape of 8 year old Tajamul Islam who won accolades in sports events not in the Valley but at national and international level. A young girl from Bandipora who won an international event in kickboxing has turned a star in the Valley with many young boys and girls taking cue from her want to make name and fame for their parents and the state. Though Kashmiri youth have special liking for the sports right from the beginning but the political atmosphere has been a biggest impediment that left our state especially the Valley far behind in the sports activities. Despite these shortcomings and lack of infrastructure and state sponsorship we have produced Pervaiz Rasool a cricketer of international repute and Akbar Khan a cyclist who represented in the international fixtures. The Kashmiri youth are not far behind in any field from their counterparts of other states but they only lack infrastructure and guidance. And if given a proper coaching and guidance the young boys and girls could bring medals in every sphere of sports. The time has come when government should take extra care about developing infrastructure not only in the summer and winter capitals of the state but also in the rural areas. Even today at many schools students don’t have either proper playground or the equipment so they could spend their leisure time in sports related activities. The government has full-fledged departments like Youth Services and Sports, Sports Council meant for promotion of sports activities in the state. However in the past these departments have failed to deliver desired results and there have been lot of complaints about these departments. Of late it seems government has waken up from the deep slumber and taken some initiatives to encourage students and youth who had excelled in the field of sports and these young boys and girls were felicitated by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti at Indoor Sports stadium. The event was participated by hundreds of young boys and girls who had come from different parts of the Valley even from the remote village. In fact this is the high time when government should dedicate proper funds for the promotion of sports activities at least it will help our young boys and girls to get distressed in the current atmosphere when they have only witnessed bullets, pellets and teargas and PAVA shells in addition of dictates to curb the free movement by the separatists. We have already lost two generations to the violence let the government take steps to secure the future of coming generations. Though organising sports events at district and provincial levels is a welcome step but it should not only confined to gain cheap publicity, instead concrete steps should be taken so that benefits of sports activities reaches to our young generation who live even in remote parts of the Valley
The Editorial is from the print edition of 14-20 December 2016.