West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, which was once the headquarters of the outlawed CPI Maoists eastern regional bureau, will witness the launch of a sports promotion scheme on December 15 aimed at dissuading youths from joining rebel outfits.
“We have deliberately decided to roll out the Sports Action towards Harnessing Aspiration of Youth (SAHAY) scheme from Chaibasa in West Singhbhum as the mineral-rich and dense Sal forest area of Saranda in the same district used to be a Maoist bastion. The scheme would be simultaneously launched in four other rebel-hit districts of Seraikela-Kharsawan, Khunti, Simdega and Gumla,” said a senior official in the chief minister’s secretariat.
The official said the project could be a role model for other states plagued by extremism.
“It can certainly be a role model worth replicating by other states facing Naxalite menace. The Union home ministry can also take a leaf out of it to solve the vexed extremism problem,” said the official.
West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Ananya Mittal said the SAHAY scheme would be launched at the Chaibasa football ground.
Jharkhand sports director Zeeshan Qamar said initially the scheme would be rolled out in five rebel-hit districts and would be replicated in other districts based on feedbacks.
“It aims to dissuade youngsters from joining rebel outfits by promising them financial rewards and offering them a greater horizon of sporting opportunities and government jobs if they excel in their fields. The scheme will have expenses worth Rs 10 crore in the ongoing financial year and will see competitions at panchayat and block levels in football, hockey, volleyball and athletics. Panchayat- and block-level teams will lock horns in local tournaments, which will then culminate into state-level championships. The winners in both team events and individual disciplines will then be absorbed into the state-run residential and training centre of excellence and groomed for state and national-level competitions,” Qamar said.
“The SAHAY scheme is one of its kind. All those taking part in the competition from panchayat to block level will be registered and their database will be stored digitally by block-level and civic body officials,” he added.
The scheme will cover boys and girls aged between 14 and 19 years.
“Those with potentials in these age group will be selected and their skills polished. They would also be provided with all facilities received by other sportspersons at the residential centres along with education,” Qamar said.
Those who don’t get selected in the residential centres will be linked with other government schemes for employment generation or recruitment in various departments, a senior official in the chief minister’s secretariat said.