The Telegraph
Thursday , November 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Madarsa topper granted US visa

Guwahati, Nov. 21: Overnight, despondency turned to joy as Mohammad Munna Ali Khan got news that his son Ratul had been granted a visa to travel to the US and visit Nasa on an educational tour — a reward from the government for topping the High Madrasa examination this year.

His voice choking with emotion, the proud father told The Telegraph: “Thanks to Allah, he has got justice.”

Things were very different yesterday. Six toppers of the state board’s matriculation examination were given a formal send-off by chief minister Tarun Gogoi and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while Ratul was heart-broken. He believed it was his religion and his alma mater, a madarsa (SAB High Madrassa), that dissuaded US authorities from granting him a visa. Several student organisations had protested against this yesterday.

Ratul’s father said he got a call from the education department today around 9am informing him that his son’s visa had been confirmed. “They also sent a car and after just about managing to pack his bags, I accompanied Ratul to Guwahati airport from where he went to Calcutta. A department official — Wasim Talukdar — is also travelling with him.”

Ratul reached Calcutta and is scheduled to meet the others in Delhi tomorrow. The US consulate in Calcutta also called up to inform about the visa being granted, Khan said.

The education minister had said Ratul’s visa was “pending” and religion had nothing to do with it. Today, he tweeted: “If everything goes well, Ratul will join the Nasa-bound team by tomorrow.”

“Ratul could not believe his ears when I broke the news to him. He was going through a bad phase, but I am sure that this trip will be a big inspiration and do him a world of good,” said Ratul’s father, who lives at Hajo Path Alikakh in Kamrup district.

He also thanked the chief minister and the education minister for their efforts in ensuring his son’s visa. “The education minister has been particularly kind to us,” he said, adding that Sarma was bearing Ratul’s educational expenses.

In January, the state government had announced that it would sponsor a trip to Nasa for the toppers of matric and high madrassa examinations this year, under the Debo Kumar Bora Memorial Nasa Visit 2012 Award. Accordingly, it selected six matric toppers and one high madrassa topper.