Against the backdrop of the ongoing violence in Kashmir, four young students have helped reinforce the belief that though all’s not well in the state right now, hope, aspirations and dreams can be found just around the corner.
The four students, Usman Hafiz, Aqib Mujtaba, Hilal Ahmad, and Shahid Afridi have gained admission into different IITs and are making their parents proud. All four of them are from Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Usman, Aquib and Hilal come from Kalai, a village near the confluence of Mandi and Surankote streams of Poonch river. And Shahid belongs to Shindra.
Image for representation only. Source: Facebook
Shahid is pursuing a degree in computer science at IIT Kanpur, Aqib is studying mechanical engineering at IIT Bhubaneswar, Usman is studying electrical engineering at IIT Delhi and Hilal is studying computer science at IIT Patna. “We’re IITians only because we’re in India,” Shahid, who was handpicked by a local NGO for IIT entrance training and sent to Bundi, Rajasthan, told The Times of India. Hilal, Usman and Aqib had joined coaching classes in Delhi.
“I may not be a good batsman like my namesake, but I fend off bouncers from curious friends at IIT when they ask me if all Muslims turn to militancy. I take pride in explaining to them the significance of living in border areas,” said Shahid.
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A couple of months before violence struck the state in July, the four boys left to pursue their dreams. There are many other students like them who are not interested in violence and standoffs, and wish to follow their passions.
“It’s time J&K’s youth understand that those who ask them to turn into stone-pelters are instigators, not well-wishers. Poonch has seen no industry. The first thing that comes to mind is to bring rail connectivity and the knitwear industry to my region,” said Usman.