▪Both toppers belong to Dadsar▼the Jamaat stronghold that produced the highest number of militants in Valley, and also a Major General ▼
[Ahmed Ali Fayyaz]
SRINAGAR, May 19: Hajira alias Haja started her career of promoting education for the have-nots five years after her husband Abdul Ahad Bhat of Awantipore, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, retired from the Government service in 1995. Named after the couple in year 2000, ‘Hajira-Ahad Public School’ grew popular in a short span of time and came to be called affectionately as ‘Haja-Ahad Public School’. Declaration of results for Matriculation (Regular annual) by Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education [BOSE] on Tuesday brought cheer and festivity to entire Awantipore-Tral belt of South Kashmir as Haja-Ahad grabbed both the top positions in an examination in which 50,535 boys and girls appeared in Kashmir province.

Sixteen-year-olds Aneeka Shabir and Shaheera Shamim stood the First and the Second respectively in order of merit. Out of 500 marks, Aneeka secured an incredible 494 [98.80%] and Shaheera 491 [98.20%]. Both are friends and neighbours to each other in Dadsar, the dusty village in Tral that has the ‘distinction’ of having produced the maximum number of militants—‘200 plus’, according to eminent academic Jauhar Quddusi who teaches Urdu literature at a government college in Pampore. “Arguably, no other village in Kashmir has produced this number of militants. More than 40—militants and civilians—killed in this village in the last 25 years lay buried here”, Quddusi revealed.

Another resident Manzoor said that some civilians and militants were killed by Army and Police in encounters, some like Jamaat functionary Ghulam Mohammad Paul were seized alive and killed in custody while as some civilians were shot dead by militants as “informants” and “suspected Indian agents”.

Dadsar was, and continues to be, a stronghold of pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest contributor of human resource to the formidable guerrilla group Hizbul Mujahideen. Mainstream Congress and National Conference [NC] activists like bureaucrat-turned-politician Ghulam Nabi Nayak and Ghulam Hassan Bhat lived as an exception.

Bhat, the NC’s potential candidate for 1996 Assembly elections, survived the first ambush and his Personal Security Officers got killed as he was not in the vehicle targeted near Noorpora. Later, he was blown up in an IED blast. NC’s ex-MLA Subhan Bhat, who lived in Tral, had been gunned down in the very beginning of militancy. Subsequently, two of his sons, who planned to contest the elections, were also shot dead. Still, his third son Ghulam Nabi resigned as a government physician and was elected MLA in 2002. His fourth son Ashraf lost two elections but is still a contender for NC’s ticket.

Like the gun, education is ubiquitous in Dadsar. According to the residents, Hizb’s most prominent commander of the area Adil, who was killed in an encounter with Army last year, as well as his cousin Burhan, who currently figures as the outfit’s most wanted militant after his brother Khalid was killed in a controversial encounter last month, were graduates. Nayak, who served as Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner before a term as MLA of Congress party, has one of his sons as Divisional Forest Officer and another, Amin Nayak, a Major General in the Indian Army. His son-in-law Dr Muzaffar retired as Director Health Services. Neighbour Mir Mohammad Kazim retired as Director of Education and his son Mir Mushtaq as Director of Food & Supplies. Another neighbour Nisar Mir is Kashmir’s first Joint Secretary in University Grants Commission. The list of post-graduates, doctors, engineers and teachers is infinite.

But both, Aneeka as well as Shaheera, are from a modest family background. “We take only those students who do not afford to arrange expensive tuitions. Usually, they are from middle and lower middle class”, Haja-Ahad’s Principal and proprietor Imtiyaz Bhat told State Times. Shaheera’s father Shabir Ahmad Rather is a Works Supervisor in the State-owned J&K Projects Construction Corporation. Her mother Fareeda Akhtar works as Female Multipurpose Health Worker.

“Our joy knew no bounds when the results came out. I and Shaheera my friend were confident that we would be in the top 20 but neither of us imagined to be on the top First and Second”, Aneeka said in a conversation with State Times. “I was at a hostel in Rajbagh (Srinagar) where I am preparing for CET when I got the good news. I ruturned to my school in Awantipore to participate in the celebration”.

Over a thousand residents gathered to greet Imtiyaz and the two brilliant students. They were later taken in a procession to Dadsar where literally everybody turned up with enthusiasm and a sense of pride. Women showered candies, walnuts and almonds on the two girls and their proud parents.

Shaheera’s parents, Shamim Ahmad Shamim and Tasleema are both teachers. Neither of them is upset over Shaheera missing the top First by just three marks. “Aneeka is our daughter like Shaheera”, quipped a relative.

Aneeka attributed her achievement to “Allah’s benevolence, hard work, perseverance, good luck, good quality education and support and guidance from my parents”. What was she planning for the future? “I want to pursue high degrees in Medicine and work as a professor of Medicine. I want to create the best of our physicians and surgeons”, said the altruist-minded pupil.

The family of the Haja-Ahad promoters is a great success story and role models for youngsters like Aneeka and Shaheera. While Abdul Ahad Bhat held top positions in the State administration and retired as J&K’s Transport Commissioner, all of his seven sons and one daughter, Nighat, who is married to a Kashmiri aeronautical engineer and settled in United States of America, excelled in diverse fields.

Mr Bhat’s sons Mushtaq and Parvez are Executive Engineers in Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana and Economic Reconstruction Agency, respectively. Dr Javed and Dr Mudassar are Associate Professors in SKIMS Medical College. Dr Majid is a dental surgeon and Nodal Office of a health scheme in the office of Chief Medical Officer Pulwama. Shabir is a Divisional Forest Officer in Ganderbal. B.E. in Electronics from a prestigious university in Bangalore, Imtiyaz has opted not to join any government service.

“I want to provide the best of education to the students whose parents can’t dream of admission in the elitist DPS and top Christian Missionary schools”, said the man whose achievement must have turned a many faces pale in the Capital’s upscale education business. “Last year too, we got the 5th, 11th and 20th position in Matric and a large number of Distinction grades”.

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