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SRINAGAR: In a heartening development, Kashmiri girl Nighat Sahiba will be awarded with the recognition as the young talent on the eve of  the birth anniversary of Mallika Sengupta on 27th March, a periodical ‘Bhashanagar’ felicitate an award in the name of the poet. The program will take place on the evening of 27th March at Sisir Mancha. Renowned poet Sankha Ghosh will give the recognition to her. Nighat Sahiba used to write in Urdu. She got the Young Poet Academy Award in 2017. Three books of Sahiba have been published till now.  Last year Payel Sengupta and Souvik Banerjee secured the award. Another face Anindita Gupta Roy was awarded for the poetry translations of Maya Angelou. 

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It's said that world witnesses similarities in almost everything and almost everything has a twin made in this vast world. It's a common saying in our part of the world that everyone and everything has a twin and one could be lucky to witness a twin or two in his lifetime.

So in that case, lucky am I, who witnessed a twin, not of himself but his motherland. Yes, I am talking about a twin of my motherland, Kashmir. I have been travelling for the past one month and after travelling to a few countries, my last destination before heading home was Tajikistan, which was earlier a part of USSR and now an independent country. After taking off from Mashhad in Iran on an Aseman Air flight, I dozed off and after the flight landed in Dushanbe, my fellow traveller woke me up with full enthusiasm saying, "Roohullah, wathu thoad Ghare ha wotukh". Which means, Roohullah, get up, you have reached home.

I got up and without looking out of the window, I pulled my cabin baggage from above and got going half asleep. But what happened next was surprising, the moment I got out of the aircraft, I literally stopped and for a second thought that I actually landed at Srinagar Airport. The same breeze, the same light, the same atmosphere, the same view and the similar surroundings. 

Since my walking out of the aircraft at Dushanbe airport, there is just one sentence making a run in my mind, "Kashmir with an asterisk". The two places are so similar that anyone would get confused and anybody can be befooled with the pictures.  The Dushanbe city reminded me of Paris, same kind of streets, same kind of shops, same kind of the style and a similar kind of the nature in people that would make you hold your head because, even if they know English, they wouldn't respond, they would still talk in their own language. 

After spending one night in Dushanbe, the next day, early in the morning we started our 200 KM long journey and the more we were going away from Dushanbe and getting closer to Kulob province, we felt more in Kashmir and not once but a few times my fellow travellers and I repeated, "aes ma watav ghare?" That means "are we reaching home?"

The surroundings, the trees, the houses, the people, everything looks so similar that it feels that we are in Kashmir a hundred years ahead or at least thirty years behind. Don't get confused with the sentence the way we got with the place, I mean to say a hundred years ahead in terms of development and cleanliness and three decades behind in terms of the house structures. The same type of houses that we witnessed three decades back in Kashmir, but with a better strength I am sure of the architecture.

The muddy houses, the smoke coming out of the kitchen chimneys, people working in their farms, ladies carrying something or the other on their heads, similar faces, similar physique, similar way of walking, similar way of expressions, similar surroundings, same chinars, similar spring flowers on trees and plants, similar willow trees, similar grass, similar spring fragrance but not the similar concrete jungles.

After staying in Kulob, one fine morning we decided to take a day tour to a place around 75 kms ahead of Kulob. I wanted to sleep but the surroundings didn't let me. Such breath taking views of mountains, landscapes and nature that would take anyone's heart away and would make anyone want to live there in the lap of nature and feel peace. One of my fellow traveller said in humour, probably the Mughal king Jahangir didn't get a chance to witness this place that he concluded in Kashmir saying " garr Firdaus baroye zameen ast, Hameen ast o hameen ast o hameen ast". Another responded saying that it has been his short sightedness thinking that there couldn't be a better place on earth than kashmir forgetting that God is great and must have made a place that's better than Kashmir and which is perfect. We witnessed this and thought it was something out of the world but surely there would be places that are better.

Tajik people have for sure maintained their roots and taken care of them with off course a better understanding of the good and bad effects of doing so. Don't even think of letting a thought come into your mind that they are decades backward, no, not at all, remember they are well advanced and well exposed than us in everything and in maintaining their way of living, they aren't 3 decades behind us but 5 decades ahead of us, because we have started to feel the ill effects of going away from our roots and culture however it would take us two more decades for the complete realisation when we would have no chance of looking back.

I was lucky enough to witness a twin of my motherland, are you? If you have the will to replace your holiday to Delhi, Mumbai or Goa with a trip to Tajikistan with a little more money, do visit this beautiful country and you would get back with loads of memories to cherish for the rest of your life.

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UDHAMPUR: Army has always been the flag bearer of peace, women empowerment and social upliftment of the society.  In persisting with these efforts and to appropriately recognise the achievements of the youth, Army unit at Kalakote, felicitated Ms Sonia Chib of Village- Barakh, Tehsil- Pouni, district Reasi for securing the first rank in the merit list of Woman Officer Technical Entry (Civil Engineering) of Indian Army. 


Ms Sonia, daughter of retired Subedar Jagdev Singh completed her schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya No-1, Udhampur and further was pursuing her B. Tech in Civil Engineering from Rajasthan. She applied for Short Service Commission Women (Tech) course and after clearing the interview at Services Selection Board, Allahabad in November 2017 in her first attempt, was adjudged the merit list topper for the entry into the Indian Army. Her training will start from 02 April 2018 and will last until March 2019 at Officer Training Academy (OTA), Chennai.   


Ms Sonia takes pride in the fact that she hails from a small and remote village of far flung hilly area of Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. Having inherited patriotism as a legacy, she would be a third generation family member to don the olive green uniform and first woman officer from district Reasi (J&K). She continues the tradition of serving in the Indian Army like her grandfather Late Suram Singh Chib, Jammu and Kashmir Rifles and her father Subedar Jagdev Singh (Retired), Regiment of Artillery.               


Speaking on the occasion Sarpanch, Barakh and Tehsildar Pouni, applauded the efforts of Ms Sonia and wished her success in her career in the Army.  The Army Officer present for the occasion also appreciated her efforts and motivated her to do well during her training and consequent service in the prestigious Indian Army. Ms Sonia acknowledged her felicitation with due humility and herself called upon the students especially the girls present in large numbers during the felicitation ceremony to follow her footsteps and strive hard to become officers in the Indian Army.