Adventure sports across India's conflict zones may have become the steppingstone to misadventures – especially militancy. Security forces in the northeast believe that rebels go trekking, rock-climbing and river rafting before enlisting with separatist outfits.
The scenario is no different in Jammu and Kashmir where jihadis had reportedly signed up for skiing courses offered by the government-recognized X-games institutes.
This has come ahead of a three-day workshop on adventure sports that began in Guwahati on Thursday. The workshop, sponsored by the Union Ministry of sports and youth affairs, is being organised by the National Adventure Foundation (NAF).
“A mountaineering institute here has taught rock-climbing and other jungle survival skills to several militants,” a senior Manipur police officer, who refused to be named, said. Although state police chief Yumnam Joykumar Singh declined to comment on the issue, he said adventure sports bodies could do with a screening process for trainees.
But former Manipur Human Rights Commission chairperson Yambem Laba, who was the founder of the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Institute and had pioneered low-cost adventure in the country, said, “We cannot help it if adventure sports enthusiasts end up as militants.”
According to Laba, applicants should be taken in on the basis of recommendations by responsible citizens. “Forms are usually sent out to colleges and universities, which should take the responsibility to recommend students,” he added.
Adventure sports enthusiasts, however, said they had been at the receiving end of militancy. “Trekkers and mountaineers in Manipur and elsewhere in the northeast have often had their rucksacks, sleeping bags and other tools taken away by miscreants,” said Lt Col (retd) K.A. Singh, director of NAF's Manipur chapter.
The jihadis in Kashmir are also learnt to have invested in the accessories needed by skiing and mountaineering enthusiasts to facilitate subversive missions.