Patriotic anthems and Kashmiri folksongs echoed through the walls of Raj Bhavan here on Wednesday. As a set of 20 girls from Kashmir, pursuing various streams of higher education, called on the Governor, it was the songs and the radiant smiles that established an instant connect.
Singing in unison
When young Rehana Akhtar, a civil engineering student, along with a bunch of her friends sang ‘Kashmir mere jannat Kashmir', Governor Surjit Singh Barnala clapped in delight.
The team of students from SMM Engineering College, Srinagar, are now in Chennai as part of ‘Operation Sadbhavana', an educational tour organised by the Indian Army.
The programme seeks to provide Kashmiri youngsters a feel of rest of India, an occasion to bond with fellow countrymen, and most importantly, to comprehend the damage terrorism causes to development.
The girls were evidently proud of their college, which is the only institution that offers engineering courses in the Srinagar valley. One girl while introducing herself to the Governor proudly said: “Every year, 2,000 graduates pass out of our college and they go on to serve incredible India”.
At the Q&A session with Mr. Barnala that followed, students eagerly quizzed him about his book “My Other Two Daughters”, painting pursuits and about his association with Kashmir.
The Governor explained to them that the inspiration for the book came from his father-like fondness for Naseem, a Kashmiri girl and Kiranjot from the U.S. – both succumbing to illness.
Kashmir was a place he held dear in his heart and had extensively travelled through the beautiful Valley, Mr. Barnala said.
He also invited his young visitors into his chambers to have a look at some of his paintings.
Captain Tashi Thapliyal of the Kilo counter-insurgency force said that if it were not for this tour, many of the girls would never get to venture outside Kashmir. “Most of them have never sat in a train. We are taking them to the horses training academy, Anna University and the Cognizant Tech Park. The aim is to motivate these young girls to choose a career and come up in life.”