Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday hosted 125 Kashmiri students on Id and said he was confident that situation would improve in the Valley soon.
The students belonged to various universities in Punjab. With the curfew-like restrictions in place across the Valley, it was an Id away from home for the students.
Normal life in the Valley has been hit following heavy security deployment and restrictions on the movement of people besides the suspension of telecom services after Parliament revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The invitation from the Chief Minister for lunch at the Punjab Bhavan here made it an occasion to cherish and feel at home, said many students.
Assuring them of their safety in Punjab, the Chief Minister said, “We cannot replace your families. But, I hope you consider us as your family too”.
Capt. Amarinder told the students that though he had not been to Kashmir in a long time due to his busy political schedule, he considered the Valley his second home. He said it was his heartfelt desire to share the happiness of this festival with the students.
The Chief Minister said he was confident their families back home were safe and they would be able to meet them soon, an official statement said.
Reciprocating the Chief Minister’s sentiments, the students said they too considered Punjab their second home, where they have always felt safe, even after the Pulwama terror attack.
“We have seen that Punjabis have a big heart,” said Faiq Salem, a student, while another thanked the Chief Minister for listening to them.
“Coming here today reminds us of our families,” said Farzana Hafeez, admitting that till they received the invitation, they had been feeling lonely at the thought of not being at home for Id celebrations.
As a memento, the students presented the Chief Minister with a portrait made by Abdul Azad, a fine arts Kashmiri student from Chandigarh University. Another student gifted him a Kashmiri samovar.
Capt. Amarinder gave sweets to the students to celebrate the occasion.
Punjab Ministers Brahm Mohindra and Balbir Singh Sidhu, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and the Chief Minister’s Media Adviser Raveen Thukral were also present.
In the aftermath of the revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir by Parliament, the Punjab government has ordered an increase in security arrangements for around 8,000 Kashmiri students in the State and directed Superintendents of Police and Deputy Commissioners to meet them personally. The Chief Minister had ordered the scaling up of security in the districts bordering Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Muslims across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh offered prayers at mosques on Monday morning.
Soon after the namaz, people hugged each other and the mosques reverberated with greetings of Eid mubarak.
The celebrations were held amid tight security arrangements.