Kickboxing in Kashmir: Vijay Goel writes to Mehbooba Mufti after junior champion's coach complains
Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel has written a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urging her to provide adequate infrastructure to the state’s kickboxers after the coach of junior champion Tajamul Islam called the treatment of his pupil a breach of trust by the state government. Months after she was assured monetary help and promised a stadium following her win at the Kick Boxing Championship held in Italy’s Andria, nothing has moved forward.
When the nine-year-old from Bandipora district defeated her opponent from the US, the entire country lauded her feat. It was the first time a player from sub-junior category won a gold medal in the game. When she returned, the CM handed her a cheque of Rs 1 lakh and promised adequate facilities for training and development of the sport. Governor N N Vohra assured that a modern indoor stadium will be developed in the district.
Speaking to the indianexpress.com, Ghumal Nabi Tantray, senior vice-president at the Kick Boxing Federation of India and President of Kick Boxing Federation of Jammu and Kashmir, said these undertakings meant a lot as it would help not just Tajamul, but also a lot of kids like her who practice sports in the politically charged environment of the state.
“We were informed that an indoor stadium will also be built in our district and it even got a sanction. But now it has been shifted to Sumbal Sonawari; a tehsil of Bandipora which is 40 kms away. How are kids supposed to travel 40 kms up and down to practice? It may take them nearly a day or two just to travel.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about Tajamul in his weekly radio show “Mann ki Baat” and encouraged several others to follow her footsteps. “But how will they follow her footsteps when she doesn’t even have a proper place to practice?” rued her coach Fasil Ali Daar and added, “In our academy we have 850 other girls who practice martial arts but in a broken shed. They were all hopeful, but now it seems like their future is destined to be bleak.” “It seems like it was a breach of trust with a nine-year-old girl. It’s tragic.” he added.
Coming from a modest background, young Tajamul was hopeful of the changes. However, with no encouragement forthcoming Tajamul on a video slammed the Jammu and Kashmir government for not providing enough facilities to the athletes of the state. “It is a shame that the state government has failed to provide us with an indoor stadium. All we wanted is a bit of protection from rain and some proper facilities. Is it too much to ask?” asked Tajamul, expressing hope that her outburst will awaken the authorities.
Interestingly, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu recently expressed doubt as to how a young Tajamul posted such a video on social media, suspecting she might have been guided by her coach.
However, Waheed-Ur-Rehman Parra, Secretary/ Member of Jammu & Kashmir State Sports Council, seemed to agree with Tajamul’s demand. “I don’t want to get into the politics of it but I think it is a legitimate demand. The CM has asked us to look into the matter and we are in the process of formulating a plan”. On the demand of an indoor stadium in the district headquarters he added, ” We can consider building one there as well. We understand the benefits of it and will look to address the issue.” When asked if there is a timeline by which the problem will be resolved the Secretary refused to comment.