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LWE area to host football tournament

Indrani Dutta

Kolkata: The West Bengal police plans to hold football tournaments in the Maoist stronghold of Lalgarh and send any promising footballers to Germany's Bayern Munich for further training. State Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told reporters at the Secretariat that this was being done as part of a plan to draw the local youth into meaningful activity, many of whom had lost their way. “We will try our utmost to motivate the youth to lead a life that is harmonious with the mainstream of the society,” he said.

He said that the tournament's scheduled commencement date of June 18, which would mark a year since the joint security operations in the state's troubled Left-wing extremist areas had begun, could not be met owing to the encounter between the security forces and the rebels. “We want to capture the football season,” the DGP said adding with a smile “perhaps you can call it WorldCup Soccer- Lalgarh.”

The original rounds of matches would be organised through the local clubs, rendering Lalgarh the epicentre of athletics once again it is hoped. Mr Singh said that Lalgarh was the preferred venue, due to its large grounds, approachability and because it has come to be regarded as the stronghold of Maoist activity in this eastern state.

Lalgarh was chosen as base by the Police Santrash Birodhi Janaganer Committee when it mobilised people to launch an agitation against alleged police excesses following the IED blast on Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's convoy in 2008.

Mr Singh said that while the idea of holding football tournaments to engage local youth had germinated at the brainstorming sessions held where ‘we do not talk of operations,' it was the IG (western range) who got in touch with Bayern Munich to sponsor a youth's training in Germany. Mr Singh indicated that the idea may be taken forward to other LWE-affected districts if it succeeds in Lalgarh.

The development package announced recently by the state government for the economic upliftment of the LWE-affected areas also talks of extending support to local sporting clubs.

Mr Singh expressed concern over a new trend among the rebels of kidnapping women. Information suggested that these abductions are not done with the motive of leading young women away for recruitment, as victims were women in their thirties and forties. He said that the family of at least one such victim had lodged a complaint with the police.

Mr Singh said that the reward of Rs. 1 lakh announced by the CBI for information on Bapi Mahato, a suspect in the Jnaneswari train case has been received by him following his arrest from Jamshedpur and would be shared with the officers of the Jharkhand police.

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