Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday hosted 125 Kashmiri students from across the state for lunch at Punjab Bhavan on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
“We cannot replace your families but I hope you consider us as your family too,” he told the students, who could not go home to the Valley to celebrate the festival. He assured them that they had nothing to fear in Punjab.
The Chief Minister said he was confident that the situation in the Valley would improve soon.
Singh said that though he had not visited Kashmir in a long time, he considered it his second home. He added that it was his wish to share the happiness of this festival with the students. Reassuring them, he said he was confident that their families were safe back home and that they would be able to meet soon.
Many students said that the lunch invitation from the Chief Minister made them feel at home.
Reciprocating Singh’s sentiments, many said that they too considered Punjab their second home and that they had always felt safe there. “We have seen that Punjabis have a big heart,” said a student, Faiq Salem, while another thanked the Chief Minister for hearing their voice.
“Coming here today reminds us of our families,” said Farzana Hafeez, another student, adding that till they received the invitation, they had been feeling lonely at the thought of not being home for Eid.
The students presented to the Chief Minister a portrait sketched by Abdul Azad, a Kashmiri student of fine arts from Chandigarh University. One student also gifted Singh a Kashmiri samovar.
The Chief Minister gave sweets to the students to mark the occasion.
Kashmiri students from Chandigarh University, Gharuan, CGC, Jhanjheri and Landran, Chitkara University, SVIET University, Banur, CT University, Ludhiana, Lovely University and SWIFT College, Rajpura attended the event.
Punjab Ministers Brahm Mohindra and Balbir Singh Sidhu, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and the Chief Minister’s Media Adviser Raveen Thukral were present on the occasion.
Following the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Punjab government has stepped up the security for around 8,000 Kashmiri students in the state and directed senior police officers to meet them personally.