In a bid to promote water sports and put Jammu and Kashmir's Uri town on the tourist map, the Indian Army has developed an aqua park in the region.
The army took over an isolated water body located between two mountains in Uri town of Baramulla district to develop it and also constructed stairs, a boat shed and rest rooms.
"Basically this is a small beginning made by the brigade over here. It's an aqua facility, which has been constructed out of the 'Sadhbhavna' fund. It's primarily to promote water sports in Jammu and Kashmir. I am aware that water sports are already popular and the state has particularly been doing well in these particular disciplines, but we wanted a facility to come up here in the frontier regions so the basic idea would be that Uri is also put on the tourist map with such kind of sports facilities," informed Major General Anil Chauhan,the commanding officer of the 19 Dagger Division.
Water sports like rafting, kayaking, etc will be promoted at the aqua park
"If we put this to use then it will be very beneficial for the people living here, sports will also get encouragement. As you know our children have reached Germany, Italy, Tehran and have been representing our country abroad and doing well. The children from the hills here have lot of endurance and they can do better. So, if we provide them with such opportunities it will turn out to be really well for the locals as well as the development of sports in the region," said the general secretary of the Kayaking Association, Umar Rafiq.
People have appreciated the army's initiative, and said that it would cement equations between the army and the local population further. "Yes, this is a very new thing for the people living here and I feel people will be very curious to explore what the place has to offer, for tourism, by the kind of events that being organised by the Army here," said a resident, Imtiyaz Ahmad.
Earlier no water sports facilities were available in the area. Uri town being near to the India-Pakistan border had suffered during the ceasefire violation in the past.
The Kashmir region has witnessed numerous militant attacks, insurgency and infiltration attempts from across the border in the last two decades.
Militants have been frequently attacking security bases in Kashmir since the 1990s, when there was a full-blown insurgency against Indian rule in a region over which India and Pakistan fought two of their three wars.
The Himalayan region is one of the world's most militarised zones, with India deploying more than 1.3 million troops to quell the rebellion that triggered off in 1989.