As many as 1,000 students, working professionals and stranded residents from Jammu and Kashmir left for the state by the special Udhampur-bound train from Pune station on Tuesday. As the train left the station at 7 pm, the exuberant passengers clapped and cheered while maintaining social distancing in the compartments.
“We are all delighted as we are going home. Pune was a home away from home for us. Though we were stuck here, we didn’t feel depressed and disappointed as Pune residents took care of our food and accommodation. We had absolutely no problems during this difficult period here in Pune,” said Aqib Bhat, president of Sarhad Kashmiri-Students Union, Pune.
Nasreen Bano, who is from Kargil, said, “We, Kashmiris living in Pune, had a little problem during the difficult lockdown period. Several organisations, including Sarhad, stepped forward to take care of our needs. Be it ration kits or food kits, it was distributed to us wherever we were living.”
Anusha Sharma, who lives in Kashmir, said, “Though I am going back, I would like to return to Pune once the lockdown is lifted. Majority of those living here were students who faced the problem of food and ration running out once the lockdown was imposed. We were a worried lot. But… kind-hearted Pune residents rushed forth to take care of our daily needs. We are thankful to them for this gesture…”.
Sanjay Nahar, who heads Sarhad, said some organisations and philanthropists such as members of the Jain community, Vande Matram Sanghatna and Guru Gautam Muni Trust came forward to help. “Whether it was providing meals twice a day or reaching their door steps with ration kits, our volunteers made sure that no Kashmiri was left unattended,” he said.
Before the train left, he said some organisations also gave food packets for the journey. “… BJP leader Chandrakant Patil gave masks to the students. Other local residents came forward with sanitisers,” said Nahar.
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