Vatan ko jano (know your country) a programme under which 127 students from different parts of Kashmir reached Bhopal on December 1 has failed to live up to its hype. Some of the participants left for home in the morning on December 6 and the remaining in evening. However, the participants found the itinerary and the treatment to be grossly inadequate to allow them to get even a passing acquaintance with the culture and the people of Bhopal- let alone MP.
The programme, by all means, proved to be a mere formality. The six-day Youth Exchange Programme 2018-19 for youth of Kashmir was sponsored by Union ministry of home affairs and J&K state rehabilitation council social welfare department. It aimed to provide an exposure to the youth of J&K to the culture and the socio-economic development in other parts of the country.
Youth and children hit by militancy and from weaker sections from J&K were selected for the programme. Students in the age-group 18- 22 years from six sensitive districts of J&K: Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Srinagar, Pulwama and Kupwara – arrived on December 1 and by the time they settled, it was evening. And on December 6, those from Kupwara left by an early morning train while others left at 5.30 pm.
They got just four days to ‘jano’ MP. Mehraj, a student from Badgam told Free Press, “We got very little time. By the time we could settle down, it was time to leave. I am feeling very sad. We would like to come to Bhopal again.” “We were taken to some places like Taj-ul-Masajid, Sanchi, Shaurya Smarak and IGRMS. Due to lack of time, we hardly spent an hour each at these places in which we could only click photographs.
We couldn’t interact with the students of Bhopal,” he added. Similarly, Mohammed Yawar from Budgam said, “No doubt, it is a very nice city but we did not get time to know and get a hang of it. We wanted to go to the Barkatullah University but we couldn’t.” “We got chance to interact with youth from Kashmir for the first time. It was a nice experience.
But their stay was very short and involvement of students of MP in the event was nothing to write home about,” said a college student who was one of the few students from the city who got a chance to interact with visitors. “Last time, we interacted with students who came from North-East on a 15-day tour.
That allowed us to interact comfortably with them. This event was just a formality. Six days are hardly enough for us to know their culture and for them, ours,” the student added. “The atmosphere of the city is good but the weather is quite different from Kashmir. It is too hot here. Also, wheat is the staple diet here, while back home we mainly eat rice.
When we interacted with people in city, instead of talking about our culture and theirs, the talks veered towards the militancy and stone pelting in Kashmir,” said18-year- old Suhail Abass. “It is very peaceful city. It is great to see the people of Hindi- Muslim community living together here. I loved the cleanliness and greenery in the city.
I also liked the lecture of professor at Sanchi University,“ said 15-year-old Mohammed Mumtazeer Maqbool who added, “ We only find a bit of difficulty in food. Here people eat mainly vegetarian food, while we like non-veg dishes.”
Thoda huaa, par kuchchh to hua…
Triloki Nath Mishra, director of Nehru Yuva Kendra- the nodal agency for programme- said something is better than nothing. “Thoda huaa, par kuchchh to hua…,” he said while admitting that the duration of the stay of youth from Kashmir was very short. “At least a beginning has been made. At least we have taken a step,” he said.