20 years on, indoor stadium awaits vacation by troops
Srinagar, Jan 17: Despite years of public resentment particularly from the sports fraternity, Valley’s sole indoor stadium at Hazuri Bagh continues to be under the occupation of the paramilitary troops. The players have a “limited access” to the complex.
The troops’ presence not only irks the sportsmen, as per observers, it has also been detrimental for the state-of-the art infrastructure, which couldn’t be maintained properly.
The officials said the “full revamp” of the stadium –decayed in the past two decades –wasn’t possible unless troops vacate the venue.
And while the government says the paramilitary CRPF have been asked to vacate, the latter says they haven’t received any such information as yet.
Since the onset of the armed resistance in the Valley in early ‘90s, the state government surrendered the control of the indoor stadium to house the troops.
Presently, companies from the 25 Battalion stay there. Apart from being used for accommodation for the majority of troops in the Batallion, the stadium, as per the CRPF, serves as a store-cum-parking lot of armour vehicles.
While during the ‘90s the stadium was completely under the control of the troops, in the past few years it was “partly” thrown open for gaming activities.
Entry to the stadium is restricted. The civilians are allowed entry only through one of the gates that too after frisking. Other gates have been restricted for exclusive movement of the troops.
Due to the “security restrictions” many parents are hesitant to send their wards to the venue.
Observers said the main reason of Kashmiri players lagging behind in indoor sports activities at the national and international levels were that they have no proper place to practice.
“Indoor stadium was the only place where players could hone their skills in activities like skating, gymnastics and badminton, but many of them are hesitant to enter the cantonment like venue,” said Fayaz Ahmed, a sportsman.
Not only the locals but players of international repute agree to it.
“My heart cries when I see Indoor Stadium under the occupation of troops. When you see CRPF people moving with guns at a place which should have been utilized for sports activities, as a sportsman I feel dejected,” observes prominent Brazilian football coach in Kashmir, John Marcos.
The Minister for Youth Services and Sports, RS Chib said the CRPF had been asked to vacate the venue at an earliest.
“Even though they had already vacated the main complex and got housed in the annexe, the government asked them to vacate from there as well,” Chib told Greater Kashmir.
Giving details he said just two days ago, during a high level meeting the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah asked the DGP to get the venue vacated.
“Basically, even the indoor stadium in Jammu is under CRPF. And as per the honourable CM’s directions both the stadiums have to be vacated at an earliest,” the Minister added.
The Central Reserve Police Force said they weren’t stationed there by their choice adding they haven’t received any intimation from the state government to quit from the place.
“The state government provided us the accommodation. It’s their responsibility to provide the logistics. All what we look into is that basic amenities are available. Same is true for the indoor stadium,” the CRPF, PRO Prabakhar Tripathi told Greater Kashmir.”
“If they (government) provide us alternate accommodation in adjacent area we don’t have any problem to leave the stadium,” he added.
Pertinently, the stadium complex constructed in early ‘80s at the cost of nearly Rs 60 million has a seating capacity of 2500 odd spectators and a huge parking lot. But for now, as per sources, its centrally heating system has gone defunct while the flooring and the ceiling also need massive repairs.
Leave apart indoor activities, the stadium was designed in such a way that during winters, it could also provide a platform for outdoor games likes football, which go dormant during the chill.
“This was why a football match was played at the indoor stadium on its inauguration. But for now the occupation of gaming venue has proved a spoilsport for the sports fraternity,” said Zamir Ahmed Thakur, President Jammu and Kashmir Football Association.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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