Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

Tral in a trance over young Shaheera Akhtar’s 498/500

Students lost months of classes as protests were held daily in Kashmir during much of last year after Burhan Wani, a militant from Tral, was killed.   | Photo Credit: Mukhtar Khan

Tral town in Pulwama, the hometown of the slain militant Burhan Wani, earned a new distinction on Monday, when Shaheera Akhtar, 17, came first in the Class 12 examination by securing 498 marks out of 500.

A resident of the militancy-affected Dadsar village, more than 40 km from Srinagar, Ms. Akhtar, a student of the Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School, has charted a journey full of heroism, facing raging violence on the streets and night raids for months together.

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Wani in an encounter on July 8, 2016, left Ms. Akhtar home-bound and was forced to discontinue coaching in Srinagar. “I could not attend coaching in July. In August, my grandfather passed away. I was worried about my mathematics as 60 per cent of the syllabus was incomplete. There were protest marches and mosques airing pro-freedom songs. Amid raging streets, I went to local village-level community coaching centres to complete my syllabus,” Ms. Akhtar told The Hindu.

“I owe my success to Allah and my family and the teachers who taught us despite the trouble outside. Many times I took long detours to reach teachers, waited for hours together to avoid marching protesters and avoided streets where clashes were on all day,” Ms. Akhtar said.

Tasleema Shaheen, mother of Ms. Akhtar, says it was a war-like situation. The window panes of Ms. Shaheen’s house and the car were damaged. “In August, we consulted a doctor who gave us anti-depressants. Everyone in the family took the medicine as night raids by security forces were launched,” said Ms. Shaheena, a teacher at Lariyal Government Middle School, Tral.

On August 3, the killing of civilians on the highway near Lethpora saw the security forces cracking down on the entire Dadsar village all night.

‘Unshakeable dedication’

“My daughter hid her books fearing the security forces may damage her study room during night raids. For days together she was in a trauma. My daughter had a major bout of shivering when a landmine hit a police vehicle on November 5,” Ms. Shaheena said.

“It is reassuring to note that despite having lost almost a full academic year to the unfortunate and tragic disturbances in Kashmir, our students and teachers have put in their best efforts to make up for the losses,” said State Education Minister Naeem Akhtar. The government is yet to be pronounce anyone as topper as it prepares to hold another round of examination in March for those who could not appear in the earlier one due to the turmoil.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur also greeted the topper. “We are proud that our girls are topping the exams. These trendsetters will have a positive impact on society,” he said.

Of 53,159 students who took the examination, 40,119 have qualified, with the pass percentage at 75.47 — 76.08 of girls and 74.95 of boys. In 2015, when situation was normal, the pass percentage was 55.18%.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 12:53:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Tral-in-a-trance-over-young-Shaheera-Akhtar%E2%80%99s-498500/article17084037.ece

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