Maoist-hit Paschim Medinipur hosts water sports contest
With an aim to promote among the youth to take up sports, a swimming and water polo competition was organized in the Maoist hotbed of Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal.
About 130 participants from over seven other districts took part in the 58th West Bengal state school diving and water polo championship on Sunday.
This step is likely to empower youth, who mostly quit their academics in wake of the violence in the region, caused by the Maoists, even joining forces with the rebels.
The initiative was lauded by first specially-abled swimmer from Asia, Masudur Rahman Baidya, who swam across the English Channel and created history by covering it in record time.
"This initiative would allow the local youth to take interest and play the water sports despite staying in such an interior and sensitive part of the district," said Baidya.
Over the past few years, the rebels have stepped up their efforts against the government as well as the locals, after various locals complained that Maoist activities such as killings and abductions increased considerably in the area.
Analysts have observed that the guerrilla war, waged mostly from the forests of central and eastern India now poses the biggest internal security challenge.
Hundreds of people have been killed and injured in the violence, perpetrated by the rebels as well as security forces in counter insurgency operations.
Nonetheless, a local teenager who participated in the swimming events expressed his desire of some day competing in the national events.
"It is my goal to take up the sport at the national level," said Rahul Deb, a swimmer.
Also known as Naxals, Maoists have also significantly increased their presence in tribal and rural regions in the states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa, where tensions run high between poor farmers and industrial developers.