What it takes to be a student in Kashmir

Rediff.com

What it takes to be a student in Kashmir

June 28, 2018

The ongoing violence in the valley is driving students to excel, but it is also making them angry, discovers Ritwik Sharma.

“I am used to my father being in jail,” says Sama Shabir

Sama Shabir Shah, right, with her mother in Srinagar, May 26, 2018 Photograph: Umar Ganie for Rediff
“I am used to my father being in jail,” says Sama Shabir, a separatist leader’s daughter who topped the recent CBSE Class XII exams in Jammu and Kashmir.

The humanities student grew up accustomed to visiting her father Shabir Shah in various prisons across the state.

But when the founder and president of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party was locked up in New Delhi’s Tihar jail last year, it was traumatic for Sama, her mother and younger sister.

“In Tihar, he is being kept like a criminal, although he is a political prisoner. It was very disturbing to know that he wasn’t given medicines or proper food. But I thought I should not take it as a negative and do something to make him proud. With hard work and dedication, you can cope with any situation, however hard,” says Sama, who scored 97.8 per cent.

The 64-year-old Shah, who was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, has spent over 31 years in jail and is known among supporters as the ‘Nelson Mandela of Kashmir.’

Sama draws inspiration from him, as she prepares to study law.