“Operation Samaritan” initiative brought together a 15-member school girls team from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, for the maiden National Integration Tour (NIT). Organised by the Indian Army, it turned out to be an unforgettable ride on army tanks in Ranchi Cantonment. Till the start of their tour on February 25, the girls had never seen a train, tram or tank, let alone travel in one.
On an educational tour to Guwahati, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Ranchi the girls from Tawang earlier interacted with GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, Lt Gen Dalbir Singh in Fort William, Kolkata on Saturday. During the interaction, two girls also told the General that they wanted to join the army some day. On Monday, they also interacted with Jharkhand Governor, Dr. Syed Ahmed, at Raj Bhavan, Ranchi. “This is the first time that these girls have stepped outside Tawang. For most it is also their first-ever outing beyond Tenga (a valley on the way to Tawang),” Maj Sunder Singh Chahal conducting the NIT said. Also accompanying the girls are two teachers and two army wives, Mrs Manohar Rajpurohit and Mrs Pomil Chahal.
The Indian Army routinely organises NIT to expose children from Jammu & Kashmir and those from remote areas in northeastern states to discover the vastness and greatness of our country. These tours are fully sponsored by the army under the umbrella of a goodwill operation, named ‘Op Sadbhavna’ for J&K children and ‘Op Samaritan’ for children from the north-east. “We had for the first time sent out a boys team from Tawang in August- September last year. We then received an overwhelming request for the girls to be also given an opportunity from the local population here,” Commander, Tawang Mountain Brigade, Brigadier JS Rajpurohit said.
“Since it was a first trip ever for the girls, and also a new initiative for us, my wife Manohar and another lady, wife of the conducting officer accompanied them for guidance and to see to it that their first-ever visit out of this area is a memorable one,” he added. Apart from the tank ride in the Ranchi cantonment, the team visited the Kamakhya temple and Zoo in Guwahati, famous landmarks including Victoria Memorial, Howrah bridge in Kolkata and travelled in in trams and metro rail, and visited Konark and Jagannath temples in Odisha. The sea experience in Odisha coastline was overwhelming for the Monpa girls who live at altitude above 10,000 feet above mean sea level.