Anantnag SSP inspires Kashmiri youngsters to dare to dream, achieve better life
Dreams come true with hard work and focus. That’s the open secret behind Operation Dreams, playing out in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district thanks to senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sandeep Choudhary.
The 34-year-old J&K-cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2012 batch, who is from the border town of Abohar in Punjab, has struggled to achieve his dream and is inspiring hundreds of youngsters to achieve theirs despite the odds. He has been providing free guidance and coaching to youngsters, helping them qualify for competitive exams since the middle of 2018. He has named his mission Operation Dreams.
More than his coaching, it is his struggle that is motivating many an aspirant to achieve his/her dream. “He is my mentor. His struggle inspires us,” says Mohammad Farhan, 24, an engineering graduate from Anantnag who cleared the Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) exam in September.
Farhan is now pursuing a bigger dream of clearing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. “Choudhary sir gives us tips to face interviews. I qualified the KAS exam with rank 28 but could not crack the UPSC entrance due to low marks in the mains but I’m giving it another shot,” he says.
EMPOWERING FOR EMPLOYMENT
Choudhary says he launched Operation Dreams two years ago to empower youngsters to crack competitive exams for government jobs without getting exploited by coaching institutes and costly study tutorials.
“The advent of the coaching industry has discouraged many students from humble backgrounds to pursue their dreams for a better life. The aim of this initiative is to guide youngsters towards a self-study-based approach for cracking competitive exams,” he says.
Choudhary began by coaching aspirants for the posts of sub inspector in Jammu and Kashmir Police. He was posted as superintendent of police (SP) in Jammu South in 2018 when he started by holding classes at his office before duty hours from 8am to 10am. As the number of students grew from 10 to 150, he shifted to a community hall in Jammu. Thirty-eight students from that class cracked the sub inspector entrance exam.
SELF STUDY TO SELF RELIANCE
Choudhary’s has been a life of struggle and self-reliance. “I was a medical student till Class 12. My father passed away just five days before the board exams. Life changed after that. I started working at the age of 19 as a clerk in a post office,” he says.
He went on to study mass communication at Panjab University, Chandigarh, but dropped out a few months later. He decided to carry on studying by correspondence through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) but at no point did he give up his pursuit for a better life.
“I completed post-graduation through correspondence and continued working at the post office for five years. I cleared the competitive exams such as the bank probationary officers’ entrance, Punjab Civil Services, Reserve Bank of India, University Grants Commission’s National Eligibility Test besides the UPSC entrance, all through self-study,” he says.
ADVERSITY BRINGS OUT THE BEST
His coaching efforts have been appreciated in Kashmir, which has seen challenges such as militancy besides the Covid-19 pandemic. “The situation was challenging in Shopian, where I was posted as SP. Operation Dreams classes were run for a brief period there before I joined as the Anantnag SSP this February. Classes had to be moved online because of the pandemic,” he says.
With the lifting of the lockdown, he has again started teaching offline twice a week, where the average participation has been of 45-50 students. “Soon, classes will be run daily on the Jammu pattern as the number of interested students has increased. There are many from far-flung areas who can’t afford coaching but yearn for a better life,” he says.
Choudhary says he is trying to motivate students facing tough circumstances and adds that his proudest moment so far has been to see one of his students, Moin Khan from Jammu, get through the sub inspector exam. “Moin worked as a pizza delivery boy. He prepared for competitive exams through Operation Dreams classes. Today, he is a sub inspector in Jammu and Kashmir Police,” the SSP says.