In an attempt to connect to the youth and win their hearts, police in the Valley launched a state-of-the-art sports club in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area on Wednesday.
The area, which houses the historic Jamia Masjid headed by moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was the hotbed of last year’s anti-government protests. More than 100 people were killed and several more injured in the summer of discontent that was triggered by the killing of a teenager on June 11, 2010 in Nowhatta.
“Youth’s vision in Sher-i-Khaas (downtown) could not expand due to the unfortunate situation prevailing for over two decades. Such facilities will help youth understand the policeman who also has a family and a heart,” home minister Nasir Aslam Wani said while inaugurating the area’s first youth club.
Among 5,000 protesters arrested since March last year, 1,000 were from Srinagar alone.
“The area lacks proper infrastructure leading to frustration among people who then indulge in throwing stones. This place is full of talent and should be utilised,” parliamentary and justice minister Ali Muhammad Sage said.
The state has asked the police to organise sports tournaments across the Valley. “The government will open more such sports, leisure and study facilities,” Wani said.
The panchayats have also been tasked to handle youth affairs in villages to stop them from engaging in violent activities.