DRASS/KARGIL: From the rubble of the war, the Government Higher Secondary School in the border village of Pashkum rose like a phoenix to become a symbol of undying resilience in the face of adversity.
More than two decades later, the school paid homage to the martyrs of the Indian armed forces who laid their lives while fighting the Pakistani intruders, as The New Indian visited it.
The school suffered heavy damages due to the continuous shelling from Pakistan. However, the school was now rebuilt and is now located on the top of one of the hills.
“Indian Army saved us. We are thankful to them. The situation was very difficult as my parents told me that they would stay in bunkers to hide from shelling,” Zahra Sheikh, a class XII student said. Sharing her dream, Sheikh said she wants to pursue a civil service exam and live in the national capital of the country.
Another student of class XII, Hamid Ali, said, “My grandfather told me that bombs were dropped at the school as well as nearby farms.”
“I salute all the soldiers who bravely fought with the enemy and ensure our victory,” he said.
Zakir Hussain, who teaches Arabic at the school, said, “The shelling started suddenly and it is the residents of Ladakh who suffered the most. None of us thought that something like this would happen.”
“Our school building was damaged by the heavy shelling. But now it has been rebuilt,” he added.
Praising the Indian army, Hussain delivered the lines from the 1968 Bollywood film Aankhen starring Dharmendra and Mala Sinha: “Us desh ki sarhad ko koi chhu nahi skta, jis desh ki sarhad ki nigheban hai aankhe.”
Recalling the days, physical education teacher Ghulam Murtaja said, “Over 90 per cent of our village was damaged in the shelling.”
Signalling at the mountains around the school, Murtaja said, “Pak soldiers were dropping bombs from these mountains.”
“I had full faith in the Indian Army. They had given a befitting reply to the Pakistani soldiers and we are safe now,” he said. “I will go to celebrate Vijay Diwas at the War memorial in the evening. “
Arts teacher Mohd Asher said, “I was studying in my village during the time. I heard that the school was damaged. But now a new building has come in place. People live here in peace and respect every religion.”