This has been a story, an experience overdue here since quite a while…One of the reasons I had not penned it down for so long is the fact that I am still under its influence, influence of the place, the people – the experience – my trip to Kargil.
A close friend(Purva) and I shared a common yearning – in a small way, do something for our jawans at Kargil. NDTV’s various efforts to praise them, letters sent by thousands of little children thanking them for their bravery, etc. were almost like a nagging force – “Deepti, you must so something for such courageous souls, you must do something…” BUT WHAT – one wondered… Purva said, “I wish we could actually go and meet them – the strong men at Kargil!” Thats it! I said, we will indeed!
That, as the cliche goes, was just the beginning of my journey… through realisation.
In any aspect of life, what has always attracted me the most is – innocence. Be it while practicing photography(my passion) or through my travels… Little did I know that in a land where many have faught for the freedom of their motherland, big bold men, strong and firocious to their enemy – I would discover precisely that – Innocence.
The hard work that went into approaching the army and working hard to actually make our dream come true seems trivial incomparision with the innumerable immaterial gifts we have been showered upon. Here goes…
For the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army launched Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill), an ambitious project to build a functional community-Army relationship. In this operation, the army set up a number of schools, adult education facilities, skill centers and even computer training resources in some of the most remote border areas of Ladakh. They also send children form Kashmir to cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, to experience the different lifestyle and to give them a feeling of the world at a young age.
We, the students of Jai Hind College went on a visit, which was a reciprocal to Operation Sadbhavana.
We visited Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh and interacted with sons and daughters of soldiers, young adults of their age in villages and different people from the army. The main feature of our trip was a five day halt in Kargil. We learnt a lot about the 1999 Kargil War, saw Tiger Hill and the Tololing range, two main features of the war and went to villages that were destroyed six years ago. We also interacted with teachers and students of various Army Good Will Schools at places like Channigud, Harkabahadur and Kaksar in Kargil district.
The moments that we enjoyed the most were those spent with the Jawans. Their humility and simplicity backed by odles of courage was a rare sight for us – city bred youngsters.