Sopore: Hundreds of paramilitary troops of CRPF Battalion 177 that were brought to J&K to control the 2016 public uprising continue to camp at Sopore’s only sports stadium.
The Kaushal Sports Stadium in TulBal area of Sopore is located near the district police lines and the railway station of Sopore in Baramulla district. It was given to the CRPF battalion by the state government on temporary basis more than two years ago. Residents as well as civil society members of Sopore have tried their best to have the stadium vacated, but the troops continue to occupy – though not willingly – the pavilion meant for sportspersons.
Kashmir Reader has learnt through reliable sources that the CRPF troops are living under harsh conditions and are themselves eager to vacate the newly-constructed pavilion.
The construction of the pavilion was not even complete when the CRPF troops were brought there. The winter chill and shortage of water is making life difficult for the troops. Instead of calling them back, the central government has forgotten them, the sources said.
Rayees Ahmad, general secretary of a civil society organisation of Sopore, said that when he took this issue to a senior police officer, the officer said he can do nothing. The officer said that the central government sent the troops and only the central government can call them back.
Sportspersons expressed concern and disappointment at the presence of the troops. Sajad Ahmad, a football player of Sopore, said that the presence of the troops in the stadium has affected sports activities for the past two years.
Recently, for the first time ever, people in Sopore witnessed a football tournament under floodlights. That tournament was held in September at an unattended government land, the Charai ground in Bagh-Islam Kranshivan Colony, in main town Sopore. If it would have been held in Kaushal sports stadium, it could have attracted more spectators and sponsors.
“It seems that they have occupied the pavilion premises permanently, as they have erected concertina wires around the pavilion and also erected a bunker outside the pavilion for constant surveillance of the local populace,” Sajad Ahmad said.
Additional District Commissioner Sopore, Ashiq Hussain, expressed ignorance about this matter and said he was not the right person to comment on it.
“If they were brought to maintain law and order situation two years back, I don’t know what is keeping them to stay there still. I will talk to the authorities concerned and see what can be done,” Hussain told.
(This story has been first published on Kashmir Reader)