Jammu and Kashmir's young have been in the news for the wrong reasons in recent years — tragic deaths, stone-pelting, clashes with security forces in the aftermath of a long spell of insurgency.
But they are making news for totally different and positive reasons now — ten of them have cracked the prestigious All India Civil Services Examination, the results of which were announced two days back.
Five of the ten are from Kashmir Valley which is gradually coming out of two decades of insurgency. One is a Muslim woman from the Valley and another a Gujjar boy from Poonch.
The lure of Civil Services received a boost when Shah Faisal topped the national list of successful candidates in 2010. He has become a poster boy for youth searching for career options.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah congratulated the 10 for the job “well done.”
“Very heartening to see the number of young men and women from the State qualify for the All India Civil Services Exam this year. Well done,” Mr. Omar Abdullah wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Syed Aabid Rashid (30) appeared for the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Examination the first time in 2010 when he secured the 180th rank and was awarded the Indian Police Service.
This year, he made another attempt to get an improved rank and made it to the top 25.
“Quality of studies is more important than the quantity,” Mr. Rashid, whose rank stood at 23, said, suggesting that an eight-hour daily study schedule with dedication was sufficient to crack the exam.
“It also calls for tremendous faith, perseverance and hard work besides intrinsic motivation to succeed against all odds,” Rashid said.
Another name in the list from this State is Sehrish Asghar, who studied medicine and had already made a mark last year when she topped the State civil services.
“Nothing is impossible,” the 26-year-old said.
“Work hard and success will touch your feet. You just need proper guidance and planning to crack the Civil Services Examination,” she said.
Soon after Ms. Asghar topped the State civil services last year, she had set her eyes on the bigger goal.
Ms. Asghar is a second generation civil services officer as her father Syed Asghar was a 1977-batch Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) officer before joining politics and becoming an MLC with the Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Ranked 434, Bashir Ahmad Bhat is son of a shopkeeper and hails from north Kashmir's Sopore town, famous for apples. It had also been hit by insurgency.
Mr. Bhat has studied veterinary science and was ranked fourth in the State civil services in 2010.
Not content with the “little success,” Mr. Bhat aimed for the All India Civil Services.
“One needs perseverance and hard work. It pays,” he said.
For 28-year-old Qazi Salman, who hails from Magam area of Kupwara, close to the Line of Control, Mr. Faisal was the inspiration.
Inam-ul-Haq Mengnoo, an orthopaedic doctor from South Kashmir's Shopian district, bagged the 280th position while Manazir Jeelani Samoon of Gurez region of north Kashmir's Bandipora, which lies close to the LoC, secured the 451st position.
Five of the six successful candidates from the Valley had done their graduation in medicine while Mr. Salman was the only engineer.