In 2008, Amatullah Mehar became the only girl to pass class 10 from Chacha village in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.
Six years later, in 2015, she has become one of the most educated panchayat representatives of the area after the 21-year-old was elected pradhan (head) of Sankara panchayat samiti (block council).
And now she wants to wage a war against child marriage by ensuring 100% enrolment in schools for girls.
“Education alone can rid us of such evils,” she told HT over phone from her village, 18 km from the site of India’s first nuclear test in Pokharan.
As a first step, Amatullah has issued strict orders to sarpanches of all 44 gram panchayats under Sankara to keep a vigil in their vicinity and not allow any child marriage on Akha Teej on Tuesday, an occasion when mass marriages of minors take place in many parts of the state where child marriage is rampant.
The young pradhan said she wants to promote girls' education in the area.
“Even in my own family, my two elder sisters didn’t study beyond class 8 so it is a daunting task for me,” said the third of five siblings.
Amatullah Mehar is one of the most educated panchayat representatives of the area. (HT Photo)
Amatullah left Chacha after class 10 and did her senior secondary and bachelor’s degree course in Ahmedabad where her father’s unit, 17 Grenadiers, was posted.
Her father Mohd Rahamatullah retired as an honorary captain around the time when panchayat elections were announced in the state.
Villagers called him up to say they wanted his daughter to contest.
Amatullah was reluctant as she was preparing for the administrative services but the villagers managed to convince the father. She later took the exams for the Rajasthan Administrative Service 2012, which was later cancelled.
"I have had no interest in politics. Never thought would contest an election one day. But here I am. Now that I am into it, I want to do some good work," she added.
"By the way, I voted for the first time in my life." It is no secret who she voted for.