Prathamesh got to know about Gyan-Setu through a friend and said, “Visiting places always gives you an intense understanding of culture and traditions and visiting with Gyan-Setu has given me a wider and mature lookout”. Here is an experience shared by Prathamesh Gujar in an interview conducted by Rahul Wankhede
Have you ever thought of what it must be to live in a state where every odd day a curfew is announced or a protest takes place? Yes, a state that is often in discussions for negative sides, how it must be to live there? One of our volunteers, Prathamesh Gujar, has been to Jammu and Kashmir not once but twice. He is MA student in political sciences and is preparing for civil services. He also shared how this trip has helped him in preparing for the same.
Prathamesh visited Uri in 2018 and Doda in 2019 and when asked to point out differences between the two places he said that Uri being located along LOC is much far from development and being prone to terrorist attacks schools are often shut affecting the studies of children whereas, situation in Doda is contrasting. Prathamesh also shared that they started their journey from Jammu to Uri and had to go through many checkpoints with the army patrolling the streets and that worried them a little. But he also told us that the picture that is being put forth by the media is extremely biased and not the entire truth. He said that when they interacted with the driver on their journey it was very obvious that not all people in Jammu and Kashmir are against the army but neither are all for it.
Mid-way through the talk Rahul asked Prathamesh to share the activities held and how the students responded to all of it. Replying to it he said, “We initially took up some science experiments for the children and we got to know that they are not versed with basics of science. We had to start by explaining them those basics and keeping them on their toes, but even then the students were curious and enthusiastic to learn”. Prathamesh also talked about how they were treated in both the places. He conveyed that in Uri they were not welcomed, “The people there thought we were indulging in with some ulterior motive but when they were sure that there was no such motive they interacted with us nicely”. He also said that people in Doda were very welcoming, “They even offered us traditional Kashmiri food which in itself was a gesture”. Commenting on Gyan-Setu’s absence in local politics he said, “Non-political approach is necessary and the way Gyan-Setu works by lightly indulging civil officers is important”.
Rahul also asked Prathamesh to share his experience as Group Leader to which he said that he was the Group Leader in 2019 when he visited Doda and he believes that responsibilities start right from attending workshops till you return to Pune. He disclosed that he has learnt the importance of communication, coordination, and taking everyone’s opinion into consideration and described how he has learned to balance views and gained amicable confidence. Prathamesh claimed Dr.Sagar Doifode Sir, Deputy Commissioner of Doda who is also associated with Jnana Prabodhini to be the most memorable person on his trip.
Towards the end Prathamesh said that everyone should visit Jammu and Kashmir if they want to experience adventure, scenic beauty, and most importantly should make an eye witnessed opinion about the situation. He expressed his wish to visit again and said that the locals there want only development. They care the least about if they want to go to Pakistan or continue living in India. They want development and employment.
Giving his concluding remark Prathamesh supportively stated that Gyan-Setu Katta and Melawa are great initiatives to attract youth and people to visit remote areas and urged new volunteers to visit places and get to know the ground reality.