Maitreyi Yatra: Freedom, food and heritage — J&K students arrive in ‘filmo se accha Delhi’

Shakir, a Class XII student of a Higher Secondary School at Gulmarg in Kashmir, had only seen Delhi in Hindi movies, which he downloads and watches on his phone. In the capital on Tuesday, Shakir said, “Filmo se zyada acha hai Delhi, par hawa aur pani bahut kharab hai (Delhi is better than in films, but the air and water are really bad).” Talking about how the water in Kashmir has a “wonderful taste”, Shakir invited almost everyone he spoke to to visit his hometown. Shakir, who has come to the capital from Jammu and Kashmir, along with 300 other students as part of Maitreyi Yatra, also visited Delhi University Tuesday, where they were told about the admission process and opportunities.

The Maitreyi Yatra is an exchange programme for schoolchildren as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the J&K government and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. During summer, students from Delhi schools are likely to be taken to Kashmir.

On Tuesday, Shakir and the others said they were impressed after seeing the Red Fort, Rajghat, Delhi Zoo and schools in the city. “The schools in Delhi are nice and so are the students studying here. Whichever school we went to, everyone spoke nicely,” said Shakir, who works as a guide in Gulmarg and helps his father in the apple business.
Shakir and his friends also shared the uncertainties of life back home. “Curfew is imposed any time and schools are closed. We all love to go to school. If the governments work together, there will be a solution to the problem,” said Museer Bashir, another Class XII student.

For most girls, who are a part of the team, travelling without their family members for the first time is “giving them a taste of freedom” and a chance to taste different varieties of food. “I am just waiting to see the President’s House and India Gate up close. We are having a lot of fun,” said Sheeba, a Class XII student of Government Girls’ High Secondary School, Narbhatta in Poonch. She is excited with the capital’s food options. “We also eat bhat (rice) and dal, but people here eat so many vegetables. Since we came here, we have not had any non-veg food,” she said, laughing.

With DU officials explaining them about the courses taught at the university, the girls appeared more upbeat about coming to Delhi for studies. “I want to become a lawyer and now after this session, I would love to come to DU and study LLB,” said Bisma, a Class XII student from Poonch.

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