After facing a lot of hardship and spending thousands from their pockets, 13 Kashmiri students, who along with their four teachers reached Bhopal on Monday from all the way from J&K’s Bandipara district to participate in the December 19-21 inter-state cultural school festival National Bal Rang, keep their fingers crossed for reimbursement of their journey expenses.
Fearing stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir, a very common act by the separatists in the state, they (students) could not set off for Bhopal during the daytime and had to travel in wee hours to board a truck. “We left after midnight around 3 am so that no one notices us. We could have been stone-pelted or attacked by protesters, had we left during the daytime,” said Shahida, one of the students.
As majority of students in the team were girls and there was no arrangement of vehicles, it was a huge task for directorate of public instructions (DPI) officials to bring them to Bhopal.
Narrating the incident, DPI officer Altaf Hussain, who accompanied the team to Bhopal, said, “First of all we had to convince parents of all the students that their children will be safe. Another challenge was that there is no public transportation currently plying in Kashmir due to unrest so we boarded a truck which brought us to Jammu district where we stayed for a night spending about Rs 2,500 as we reached there in odd hours. The next day we boarded a train from there.”
Hussain also said they paid Rs 23,000 for reaching Jammu in a private vehicle. The sad part is that they might not be reimbursed for this and all such extra expenses they will bear in their return journey.
“The reimbursement sheet had a column for only rail conveyance which is fine in a normal scenario but for us to reach here and ask the children to perform was no less than a mission. We don’t know if the Manav Sanghralay (organizer of the festival) and DPI Madhya Pradesh will reimburse our expenses and help us,” said Hussain.
DPI joint director DS Kushwaha, however, thanked HT for for bringing this matter to our notice, and said, “Considering their case as a special one, we will try to help them and get the entire amount reimbursed.”
Students said most of the times their schools remain closed. “We rehearsed with a lot of difficulty at one of our friends’ house for this festival”, said Safura, a student, adding it was a great feeling for them to be here and experience a sense of normalcy in Bhopal after the turmoil in the Valley.
Himachal wins first prize in folk dance
A cash prize of Rs 51,000 was awarded to Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday for winning the folk dance competition at National Bal Rang in the state capital. Tripura and Haryana, who were declared the first and second runners-up, were awarded a cash prize of Rs 31,000 and Rs 21,000 respectively. Consolation prizes of Rs 5,000 each were given to Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh.
An exhibition for displaying paintings, food culture and regional customs was also organised by the students of government and private schools of Bhopal. Government middle schools of Nishatpura, Raja Bhoj airport area and Bairagargh were declared winners of the exhibition.
A separate exhibition on the theme ‘Samarth Bharat’ was also organised in which government high schools of Putlighar, Palasi and Nehru Nagar were awarded.
A scout camp to showcase jungle camp, river crossing, monkey bridge, commando bridge, branch tower, ban was also organised by scout guides of Madhya Pradesh. Scout Ranveer Barela and guide Savitri Soni were awarded the best scout and guide award.