On October 31, JK Police Baramulla organized Run For Unity in our town in collaboration with my NGO Peace Awareness Foundation. I am the Director of Gaash Coaching Centre, which is a free coaching institute for children in Old Town Baramulla. About 70 students aged four to 18 study at our coaching centre.
Children Hugely Excited About the Event
When I told the children that we are organizing Run For Unity, they innocently asked me so many questions, like kids ask their parents. Who do we mean by Run For Unity? Why should we run for unity? What shall we achieve by running for unity? Who all will run for unity? The older children had themselves figured out the answers to these questions, but the younger children were full of curiosity.
Then the children saw our banner for the event, on which we had written, ‘Together We Progress, Together We Prosper’. From the younger children, more innocent questions were directed at me and our teachers. What is progress? What is prosper? How will Run For Unity make us progress and prosper? They were completely engaged and engrossed in the discussion over these questions.
The children were thrilled when I told them that policemen of JK Police, soldiers and staff personnel from CRPF and BSF will participate in the run. The children were excited about the event. They started jumping with joy that they too shall participate in the run.
Despite The Chill, Kids Ready Early Morning To Participate
It was such a beautiful thing to watch these excited and happy children preparing to participate in the run. They happily started discussing the event amongst themselves. The thing to note is that all the policemen of JK Police, the soldiers and staff personnel of CRPF and BSF who were scheduled to participate in the run came because they were ordered to take part in it by their seniors.
But these small children decided voluntarily, all by themselves, that they shall participate in the run. I told the students to first talk to their parents about participating in the event, and then list their names for participation. Out of 70 children, about 50 children decided that they shall participate in the event. They were very excited about getting their names listed for participation. I was feeling very concerned for the small children who decided that they wanted to go for the run. But they insisted that they wanted to participate, so I agreed.
Among the small children who listed their names for participation is little Khansa. She is only four years old. But it is remarkable that Khansa reached the coaching centre well in time to leave for Fruit Mandi Kanispora.
As the Director of our coaching centre, I try that our children get diverse experiences so that they get greater exposure, and develop an expansive worldview. I believe that such events are also part of education, where children learn much.
The students were told to reach our coaching institute at 6.45 am on October 31. The run was scheduled to begin from Fruit Mandi Kanispora. Our NGO engaged a vehicle to take the children from the coaching centre to the starting point for the run.
The weather is already cold. In Kashmir, we all are used to starting our days late. The morning breeze is very cold. Hence people like to stay indoors till the sunshine gets bright and the days get a little warm. Despite the early morning chill, these children got up early in the morning and got ready. Their parents dropped them at the institute.
35 Children Participated In The Run
A total of 35 children reaching the coaching institute by the given time, viz. 6.45 am. So we started off towards Fruit Mandi Kanispora with them. Later, I learnt that about 15 children got late by a few minutes and could not reach the coaching centre on time. The teacher who was deputed to be there if any student reached late told me that the students started crying when they learnt that they had got late by a few minutes.
Among them, Ayman was among those who cried the most. She cried so much that when it was time for us to return to the institute, she again came to the institute with her mother. Her mother was also very upset that the child had missed the event.
When we started off for Kanispora in the bus, the children immediately told the driver to put on music. The driver played some Punjabi song. The children were so happy and excited that they all started dancing in the bus.
Little Khansa Became The Star Of the Event
Before the run started, the jawans of JK Police, CRPF and BSF made the children take position in the front, so that the elders would run behind them and take care of their safety. About 400 jawans were participating in the run.
At 8 am, DIG Police Baramulla Shri Udaybhaskar Billa flagged off the run. Initially our students ran very fast out of excitement. But after about 1 km, many of them got tired. They were seated in the police vehicles accompanying the participants. Other children continued running.
It was so touching to see little Khansa, who got exhausted but did not want to quit. One office of BSF and another officer of CRPF held her arms from both sides to give her support. They reduced their speed and happily moved with the little girl. She was totally thrilled.
Such moments were so tender and poignant. The jawans gave her and other children water, biscuits and chocolates at the refreshment points. At last, all the participants reached Showkat Ali Stadium in Khawajabagh. This was the end point for the run.
At the end point, the officers were so impressed to see a little four year old at the run, assisted by two officers on both sides. The DIG SHQ BSF Shri Rajesh Kumar took little Khansa and made her sit on one of the chairs which were for the VIPs. DIG Police and DIG BSF also addressed the participants and others who had come at the finish point.
I Wish The Officers Had Interacted More With The Children To Encourage Them
I wish that the officers of JK Police and CRPF and BSF had interacted more with the children. These small, tender children had got up early in the morning and had come for the run with great excitement.
These children were not ordered by any senior to reach there. They had come because of their joy. It would have been good if small medals costing only about Rs 20 had been given to these children as a token of appreciation.
I am happy that these children were part of this event. They saw that JK Police, CRPF, BSF – all the forces are such strong and positive institutions that protect the people and are always concerned about our safety.
The run was indeed a very beautiful event. More and more of such events should be organized because indeed, together we shall grow and together we shall prosper.