SRINAGAR: Kashmir's students have hit the headlines for another reason, as pen and paper replace the stones that the Valley's young are increasingly being identified with.
The news that 14 Jammu and Kashmir students - one of them a head constable's son - had cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination for the civil services was greeted with elation and congratulatory messages for the successful candidates.
Twenty-six-year-old Suhail Qasim Mir, whose father Mohammad Qasim Mir is a head constable in Srinagar, succeeded in his first attempt to clear the examination, standing 125th among 1,099 candidates selected for the Indian Administrative Service and other top government jobs.
Suhail graduated from the government degree college in Bemina here before moving to Delhi for management studies at the Jamia Millia Islamia University. His family belongs to Bijbehara's Sirhama Village in the Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
Among the other successful candidates are Bilal Mohiuddin of Handwara's Unsoo village in north Kashmir, who stood 10th in the all-India examination, and Bisma Qazi of Srinagar's Rambagh locality, who ranked 115th.
"You all make us proud. Our youth are full of talent, they only need an opportunity," Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Facebook, while former CM Omar Abdullah tweeted his congratulations to the state's candidates who had cleared the competitive examination, the results of which were declared yesterday.
Director General of State Police S P Vaid sent a special message to Suhail, while he wished each successful candidate from the state a bright future, a police spokesman said.
The success of the 14 candidates comes at a time of acute unrest in the valley, with students taking to the streets, mostly in protest against alleged excesses by security forces.
For Bilal Mohiuddin, who was earlier in the Indian Forest Service, the stakes have never been higher.
The father in him credits his success to his sevenmonth-old daughter, Mariam.
"After she was born in September, I cleared my preliminaries. And since then there has been no looking back," he said.
Meanwhile, the DGP also sanctioned a special reward of Rs 10,000 each to 14 wards of serving police personnel out of the Central Police Welfare Fund (CPWF).
Four of them had qualified in a competitive examination conducted by the Board of Professional Entrance Examination last year, while 10 had secured 70 per cent marks or more in their graduation or post graduation examinations in 2015-16.