December 2016 News

After 5 Months At Home, Kashmir Children Get A Special Train Ride

11 December 2016
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: It was a day of joy for many children in Kashmir as the Railways started a fortnightly special train for them following the months-long unrest in the valley. More than 600 boys and girls from various parts of Kashmir took the joyride. The children had been confined to their homes for more than four months due to the unrest, curfew and strikes. A cheerful Chief Minister Mehbooba mufti who boarded the special train was seen singing with children from Baramulla to Banihal. 'The children of the state need more and more such occasions of outing,' said Ms Mufti. She assured the children that the government will take steps so they have regular sports, extracurricular and adventure activities. The Chief Minister, who came under severe criticism for handling the unrest since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, is trying to rebuild her image. Around 100 people, mostly teenagers, have been killed and over 12,000 were injured during the turmoil. The Indian Railways' decision to start the special train service is aimed at helping Kashmiri children to overcome to stress and trauma they have gone though. Schools that remained closed for near five months due to strike calls by separatist groups are now opening on weekends. Officials say Railway minister Suresh Prabhu decided to start a free fortnightly train service after request from the state government. Kashmir is not linked to the Railway network with the rest of country as work on an ambitious rail project passing through treacherous Himalayan foothills may take several more years to complete.