Haroon Rasheed (17), who topped the state Common Entrance Test (CET) on Tuesday, has brought a good name to Poshpora, his native village in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, which only resonates in people's minds for the 1991 mass rape by security personnel.
"I always wanted to be a doctor. I have been self-studying at home for the exams for the past two years. Thanks to Allah, I topped it," enthusiastic Rasheed told the Hindustan Times. The CET topper, son of a school master, Abdul Rasheed Bhat, lives 100 km north of Srinagar in the frontier district of Kupwara near the Line of Control.
On the night of February 23, 1991, Poshpora and Kunan villages hit the headlines when more than two-dozen women were allegedly raped by the army personnel.
The mass rape case continues to stir anger in the Valley. This year, the case has been reopened for fresh investigation by a local court.
"I have read about it in newspapers. It was a sad day," said Rasheed, who was born in 1996, five years after the incident.
Rasheed's family is happy that he has earned a new feat for Kupwara district. "No one has topped CET from Kupwara district till date," said Rasheed's uncle Altaf Hussain.
The selection of Rasheed's younger sister Ruqaya Rasheed in the same CET has come as an icing on the cake for the family.
"They both wanted to be doctors. But Rasheed would always say his dream is to top the CET exam," said Hussain.
Rasheed has scored 207 marks out of 225 to top the exam, which courted controversy two months ago after the question paper was leaked. The board had to conduct a re-exam for around 20,000 students.