Moderate Separatist leader and Valley's head cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has found a new way to connect to the youth. Besides his religious sermons and political speeches, cricket seems to be the new weapon.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is chairman of moderate fraction of Hurriyat Conference, has organised a Twenty 20 cricket tournament in memory of his father Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq.
"There is a need to channelise energy of children mostly in downtown area. Instead of picking up stones, they should pick up bat and ball to do wonders. We need to just give them an opportunity," said the separatist leader.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the event is being held and the separatist camp has managed a few sponsors -prominent business houses in the Valley. The cricket league has 42 teams participating this year.
``Last few years, it was just restricted to a few areas in Srinagar. This time we have teams from all districts -Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, etc. Next year we will move to Jammu as well," the Mirwaiz added.
The tournament, which is a 45-day event, was declared open on Wednesday and is being played in the playground of Islamia College in old city- a bastion of the Mirwaiz family.
"People of old city have got special place in my heart of this and I want to see the youth of this place on top in every field. Kashmiris need to have an identity in every field, sports is no different,'' he added.
"I consider old city hub of sports activities and talent. Though our players have got talent, they lack facilities. The sports stadiums and fields were in miserable condition, now a good stadium has come up in the area and that will help," he said.