A Peace Camp For National Integration
9 September 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: To change the impression of Kashmir as strife torn valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, under its civic action programme, is holding a ten-day youth camp at Gulmarg. Even the recent incidents of violence has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the participating children.The objective of this is neither sight-seeing nor the touring of the scenic places. The main motive behind is that these students have a close look of the local environment there and share their experiences later to strengthen the national integration,' said one of the senior police official. Described as peace camp, these 182 students drawn from different parts of country will attend the camp along with 67 students (33 from Jammu and 31 from Srinagar). Together they will share their experiences of the camp. Some of the participants are attending such camp for the second time. They feel that situation in the valley has improved a lot over the years and there is no need to feel scared. Azeem, a plus one student from Whitehall Public School, Rampur UP, is attending such camp for the second time. Last year, he had attended the camp at Pahalgam. 'We are here to witness the improved situation and peaceful environment. After going back to our native places, we will tell others about the beauty of the valley and its people,' said Azeem. Amar Dwivedi, a teacher from Benhur College Pilibhit, said that there is wrong impression in the minds of people living outside the state. 'They feel that the valley is full of vioence, but after the camp, people in other states will come to know how peaceful the state is. Children are the best medium to convey this message,' he added. Yadvinder Singh of Guru Ram Dass Academy from Gurdaspur Punjab is visiting the valley for the first time. Expressing his happiness over the thought of seeing Gumarg, which he earlier used to see only in the old Hindi movies, he said that his main objective will be to see the ground realities. 'I will observe the day to day life of people, their culture and traditions besides observing the effect of long-term violence on the local economy,' he said with firm determination. One of the police official said that these children will be flagged off to Gulmarg on Saturday morning and 42 staff will be there to look after them. He said that by observing the things and sharing their views with children from J&K will help in furthering the cause of national integration. These children, later, interacted with the senior police officials including DIG Jammu Niyaz Mahmood.