Nabeel Ahmed Wani, the 24-year-old Kashmiri youth who recently topped the Border Security Force’s Assistant Commandant (Works) Examination, has a message for all the stone-pelting youths of Kashmir—that the Kashmir problem can be solved through dialogues, debates and discussions and not by throwing stones. He believes that the pen has more power than stones.

Wani, who does not like the term “other Wani” (a comparision with Burhan Bani, the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist recently killed in an encounter) to describe him, told The Sunday Guardian: “I would like to send one message to all Kashmir youths that if a pen can make me the son of this country, make me meet the Union Home Minister of the country and garner so much respect and love from all over the country, why choose stones? Stones have never given us anything.”

The BSF topper also dreams of bridging the “gap” between the people of Kashmir and the rest of the country. “I want to bridge the gap that exists, where many people think that Kashmiris are not patriots. Kashmiris are patriots, I am a patriot, and thus I chose to be in the defence forces to defend the country and its borders. Only 3-5% of people in Kashmir want to create disturbances in the state,” Wani said.

“Even though we know there are several issues in Kashmir, many people died, several youths are unemployed but to sort these issues we need to talk. When the government is willing to talk, then let us come together, sit and talk to solve these issues.” Wani added.  He also said that for employment the youth needs to realise the might of their pen than stones; as an interview would not be based on how many stones one had thrown in the valley, but on their qualification.

 Wani comes from a humble, lower middle-class family in Udhampur. Having seen disturbances in the valley, he recalled his teenage days of curfews and violence and how it affected his school and studies as a young child.

Nabeel went to the NITL Higher Secondary School in Udhampur, and studied his civil engineering from Punjab Technical University (PTU) in Pathankot, Punjab. He has always been a topper both in school and college and was even granted a minority scholarship during his college days to fund his education.

His father was a government employee in the state, while his mother is a homemaker and his younger sister is currently pursuing her engineering degree.

He could not pursue his higher studies after his engineering degree as he lost his father in 2015 and had to support his family. “I had gone through tough times after my father’s death as I had an immense responsibility on my shoulders. There was a time when I had to decide whether my sister or I could study further, but I chose to work and fund my sister’s education because I did not want her to stop studying,” Wani said.

Though he was working in the Rural Development Department of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, he always wanted to be a part of the defence forces of the country.

“I have seen how the Army has been working hard for us. Their hard work, dedication towards the country, their respect, discipline and their uniform have always motivated me to be a part of it. Though I faced many rejections, I never wanted to give up,” he said.

“Now I am very happy and thankful that I have made it to the BSF. The role of the BSF is very challenging. They have been protecting our borders so enthusiastically. This is what motivates me,” Wani added.

“During my meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, I was given a choice of being posted in Udhampur (Wani’s home district), but I declined as I do not want to be posted there. The entire country is my home and I could serve anywhere, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. I want responsibility and would work with dedication for the country,” he said, adding that he wants to inspire the youth of Kashmir to choose the right path, so that they see “positivity and the brighter side of the story”.

“I have received a warm reception in the state and this is perhaps inspiring for thousands of youths here. I don’t want to be famous, but I want my thinking to reach all youths of Jammu and Kashmir so that our state becomes a true heaven soon. If I could inspire only 10% of the youth of Kashmir through my journey, I would consider my work is done,” Wani added.


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