Kashmiri Sikhs aggrieved over govt’s apathy towards Hockey


Srinagar, June 8: The Kashmir Sikhs, mostly youth, are up in arms against the government for “deceiving them” over construction of Astroturf for hockey, the game which has been all times favorite with the community.

Their years of hope have finally been dashed by response to RTI wherein the government confirmed that officially there was no plan in place to provide hockey with all-season playfield in Kashmir for the “national game of India.”

The hockey-lovers complained that over the years successive regimes promised them that in keeping with the emotional attachment of the Sikh community with hockey, a state-of-the –art turf would be laid exclusively for the game.

The “biggest assurance” came in last winter when the government said the Astroturf would be ready at Polo Ground by this summer. 

On November 21, 2015, Secretary, State Sports council Javaid Shah while addressing government function said: “An Astroturf will be laid at Polo ground for conducting various hockey tournaments.”

But months on, finding no change in ground situation, Gurpreet Singh, a hockey player filed an RTI on behalf of his community before the Sports Council to know the reality. The response, the Sikhs said, was shocking. 

The Executive Engineer of the J&K Sports Council in a letter vide NO SC/CDK/196/2016-17 confirmed that there was no such plan at all.

 “As per the available records in this division, no funds have been received for installation of the Astroturf in jurisdiction falling under J&K Sports Council construction Division Kashmir. As and when the proposal for floating of tenders will be received, the same will get published.”

The Executive Engineer said leave apart laying of synthetic-turf, even the venue has not been decided. “As per the available record in the division, no location for laying of Astroturf is finalized in jurisdiction falling under J&K Sports Council construction Division Kashmir.”

The RTI response has left the community shell-shocked. The hockey players said it was a deliberate attempt to prevent them from honing their skills in their favorite game. “Laying of Astroturf would mean that we would be blessed with facility to play and practice the game in real time conditions round-the-year,  but the government doesn’t want us to so,” the players said even as they sought personal intervention of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari into the matter.

The community elders on the other hand have taken serious note of the “deceit.” “Our community has religious attachment with this game. Our emotions have been hurt. The government couldn’t keep its promise even on the laying of a synthetic mat for the game than to talk of other big promises made with us on other fronts,” President All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina told Kashmir Observer.

Another leader from the community said MLA, Syed  Altaf Bukhari in whose constituency the Astroturf was to be laid must personally look into the matter. 

Sportsmen believe that contribution of Sikhs towards hockey worldwide has always been immense and that Kashmir youth aspire to follow the pursuit. 

Many Asian, African and North American countries emerged on the world hockey scene, Sikh hockey players played a pivotal role.

One hundred and thirty seven Sikhs have played hockey at Olympic Games representing nine countries: Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, Tanzania and Uganda. Sikhs have played in every Olympic Games since 1928, winning nine Gold, one Silver and three Bronze medals and scored 254 Olympic goals.

Sikhs have been playing hockey in all parts of the globe and have represented eighteen countries at international level: Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Singapore, Tanzania, Uganda, USA, Wales, Zambia and Zanzibar. They have played at every Men’s World Cup since the first tournament in Barcelona in 1971.










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