Kashmiri children on peace mission
15 December 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Leaving behind the sound of gun fire and powerful explosions in which they have grown up, 40 children from different parts of north Kashmir including the Line of Control today left for Wattan Ki Sair, a goodwill mission sponsored by Army for national integration. Watan Ki Sair, a unique and noble plan chalked out by the army aimed at bringing the children of the remote areas into the national mainstream, will take the children to Jammu, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to see the historical and contemporary sites of the country, besides gaining knowledge of cultural and social diversity. Flagging off the children from Shariefabad on the outskirts of Srinagar, Maj Gen Satyevir Yadav, General Officer Commanding of anti-insurgency ‘Kilo Force’, said after their return these children shall be enriched by their experiences and the wider horizon will help them to act as ambassadors of goodwill, peace and harmony in Kashmir. He assured the parents of the children who have voluntarily allowed them to proceed on the 20 day trip that the children will be looked after well during their stay with the army. ''You have reposed faith in us, we assure you that these children will be looked after well during their stay outside the State,'' Yadav said. He said ‘Kilo Force’ which is fighting the proxy-war waged by Pakistan in the State was dedicated to the cause of maintenance of peace in Kashmir. The children have borne the brunt of this decade-old terrorism. This future generation of the nation has grown up in a disturbed and violent environment isolated from the national mainstream. Project Watan Ki Sair is a noble plan and aimed at bringing the children into the national mainstream, he added. Under project Watan Ki Sair, he said, the group of 40 children including 16 girls will visit Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. ''It’s an odyssey of quest for knowledge and national integration,'' Maj Gen Yadav said, adding during the course of next 20 days, these children will be able to see, amongst others, the historical and contemporary sites of the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Teen Murti Bhavan, Jama Masjid, Nehru Planetarium, Lotus Temple and Birla Mandir. The children would also meet a host of dignitaries including the Director General of Rashtriya Rifles. Smile and joy was writ on the faces of the children as they would be seeing trains and aircraft of which they had only read in the books but never had the privilege of travelling.