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J&K: Destiny unites orphans of militants & cops

By Gaurav Dua in New Delhi
April 05, 2007 10:01 IST
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Their fathers died fighting each other from opposite ends of the divide in Jammu and Kashmir but destiny seems to have brought them together to build bridges of friendship.

Setting a rare example, orphans of some slain militants, policemen and ordinary people, killed in bloody battles in the militancy-ravaged Kashmir Valley over the years, co-habit in Yateem orphanage in Kupwara district.

Under a 'healing touch' programme called 'Ehsas' (feelings) organised by the Central Reserve Police Force, about 60 of the children were in the capital on Wednesday to meet President A P J Abdul Kalam, who, in his conversation with them, looked to compensate the innocence that has been lost in the bloodshed in the valley over the years.

"My father was a militant. He was killed in crossfire in 2000," narrated 14-year-old Naseer Ahmed War, adding that he liked to play cricket with his friend Sameer, the son of a slain policeman.

The conditions in the valley are better now than what they used to be when his father was killed but some problems remained, Naseer said.

Another boy, Rafeeq, said, "My mother still cries when she remembers abbu (father)," who was killed by militants some years ago.

"Normally she is fine, but at times she breaks down and does not stop crying for long," he added.

Pained by the deaths they have been exposed to in their testing childhood these children draw inspiration from the simplest of things.

The children, including 37 girls, visited Amritsar and Jalandhar before travelling to New Delhi. Following their stay in the national capital, they will head for Jaipur.

"I know we are slightly lucky, travelling across India like this. There are many others like us who are not," said Amina, a teenaged girl who lives with her mother in Karbala, adding, "But ask anyone of us if he or she has heard the sound of firing or blasts, and I bet no one will say no."

The bet, clearly, is not worth risking.

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Gaurav Dua in New Delhi
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