From zone of turmoil to land of peace
26 February 2007
Udhagamandalam: Hailing from the remote parts of Jammu and Kashmir 30 students (all girls studying in classes six to 11) belonging to the middle and lower strata of society have been having the time of their lives over the last few days in different parts of South India. The students have since February 24 been in the Nilgiris thanks to the Madras Regimental Centre (MRC). Education tour The education tour has been facilitated by the Indian Army as part of Operation Sadbhavana, a welfare project launched by it in the far-flung border areas of the country. According to defence officials, the girls hail from a few schools in the militancy-affected areas of Poonch and Rajouri areas. The main aim of the tour is to provide an opportunity to the girls to interact with the people and acquaint themselves with the culture and traditions of South India. Under 'Operation Sadbhavana' a tour of places south of the Vindyas is being organised for the first time. Prior to coming to the Nilgiris the students visited some parts of South India, including Kanyakumari and Trivandrum. Speaking to mediapersons at Wellington on Monday, the girls said they were thrilled to be in the blue mountains. A student Kumari Ashoo said in their native place they had to trek over long distances for several hours to go to their school and return home. There are no buses. Safety requirements Since the army is taking care of their safety requirements, they are not afraid of going to school. She added that she was fascinated by seeing the facilities for school students here. Another student Sangeetha Thakur said it was for the first time they were seeing a train and the sea. South India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular are calm. Many of them said that they ate rotis most of the time and liked the South Indian food especially idli sambar. Pleasant memories 'We will carry back pleasant memories,' they added. Having visited a few scenic spots like the Sims Park and a tea factory, they are looking forward to a ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and a trip to the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park near her. Interacting with the students, MRC Commandant Brigadier V.P. Kashyap urged them to make the optimum use of the opportunity and always carry with them the message of peace and harmony.