Not azadi, Srinagar youth want freedom from drugs | india | Hindustan Times
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Not azadi, Srinagar youth want freedom from drugs

Like young people anywhere, Kashmiris too care about their dribbles and shots, want to fight the drug menace and crave for education. In an interaction with the police, no protester stressed on liberating Kashmir, all they wanted were sports clubs and computer centres. Peerzada Ashiq reports.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2011 02:02 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

What can the J&K police do to improve the life of the youth in the state? And what are the responsibilities of the youth in society?

On Tuesday, in their first interaction with the police after the summer unrest of 2010, these questions were posed before more than 150 protesters and stone-throwers implicated in various cases.

"Most stone-throwers stressed on the need to fight the drug menace in society, aspired for higher education, focused on following religious value systems and highlighted their responsibility to take care of their parents," a police officer said.

And, despite their avowed opposition to India, no protester stressed on liberating Kashmir or vouched for any separatist cause. While 40% said their hobby was playing cricket, for another 40% it was football.

In return, the protesters asked the police to withdraw cases against them, create youth and sports clubs, make a concerted drive against drugs and provide for computer centres in schools.

The discussion took place in a small community room of Srinagar's Nowhatta area, which also houses the historic Jamia Masjid, a bastion of separatists.

"Let's shed our professional positions and anger today and be one — just Kashmiris. Let's have a free and frank discussion," a police officer said.

All protesters were divided into 14 groups with 12 in each. After the discussion, the two questions were put before them and the answers were analysed.

"The purpose of the exercise was to know the aspirations of the youth and bridge the communication gap (between police and the youth)," said senior SP (Srinagar) Ashiq Bukhari.