Jharkhand: Hemant Soren starts sports program for areas affected by Maoists

To curb left-wing extremism, the Jharkhand government launched a program on Wednesday aimed at promoting young sports talent in Maoist-hit districts

On launching the Sports Action to Harnessing Aspiration of Youth (SAHAY) program, Prime Minister Hemant Soren said the state was “portrayed in a bad light” by some unaware of the rich tribal culture of Jharkhand. “But we have to create an environment in which nobody can lure or mislead our youngsters,” he said.

The program started in the districts of Saraikela-Kharsawan, West Singhbhum, Khunti, Gumla and Simdega is also being implemented in other districts. Nineteen of the state’s 24 counties are affected by left-wing extremism.

According to the program, boys and girls ages 14-19, from village to community level, will be registered under the program and given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in basketball, volleyball, hockey, and athletics. They are encouraged with incentives such as cash prizes as well as money for kits.

The prime minister said a sports kindergarten would be set up in the affected areas to encourage talented youngsters.

The launch comes months after the state government claimed during the Home Secretary’s meeting with LWE-affected states in September that the center had “suspended” certain actions in some Maoist-affected districts and that the absence of extremist incidents could not provide a basis for closure be that it was exterminated in these districts.

“Here SAHAY closes the gap. We want to give the youth of Jharkhand in LWE-endangered areas a plan. We have been planning it for the past nine months and this is a unique initiative in the country. We have a lot of talent in the remote areas and plan to create an environment where our people can thrive, ”Soren said on Wednesday.

According to police records, 126 extremism-related incidents were reported to the state in 2020, up from 196 in 2016. The number of civilians killed by extremists was 28 in 2020, up from 61 in 2016.