Activating Activist

From a shy student to an outspoken public speaker, a youth from South Kashmir is writing a different life script by focusing on social activism along with his studies. Saima Rashid profiles the multi-talented youth from Pulwama 

Zakir Ayub Bhat
Zakir Ayub Bhat

Through his bespectacled eyes, he focuses in the camera eye very keenly to capture emotions and expressions around. His camera work, like his social work, has earned him many accolades. At 21, he is already into documentary filmmaking, photography and social activism.

Zakir Ayoub Bhat hailing from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district is the only son of his parents (Zakir’s father is a doctor and his mother a home-maker.) Last year, he got 2nd and 3rd positions, respectively, in documentary screening and photography in a film fest organized by IUST Awantipora.

“Scoring maximum or being counted among the toppers hardly interests me,” says Zakir, “but people showing interest in my work is the source of my contentment.”

He started his schooling from Army Public School, Srinagar. But due to some personal reasons he left the school midway and joined Good Shepherd Mission School, Pulwama, where he studied up to 7th standard. Then he joined Delhi Modern Public School (DMPS) Pampore, where he passed out his matriculation. For Senior Secondary education, he joined MM Senior High School Pulwama where he passed his 12th Class in 2012 as a non-medical student.

Zakir candidly asserts that he was a shy and reserved guy until he joined DMPS Pampore. Talking openly to his comrades or interacting with teachers was difficult for him, he says. Zakir’s life, however, changed in that school when he was made the ‘school head boy’. “That position invoked a great confidence in me,” he says. “And today, I can face a good audience and the entire credit for this goes to my teachers.” He was awarded “Mr DMPS” 2010 and ”Student Of The Year” by the same school in 10th class. He is currently pursuing Bachelors in Computer Engineering from IUST Awantipora.

In 2011, he met a local lawyer who helped him to step into social activism. He has worked on projects like “Save Hangul” and “Adobe Youth Voices”.

“The majestic Hangul or Kashmiri Stag is a powerful symbol of the future of Kashmir,” he believes, “as Hangul is the national identity of Kashmir.”

To spread the word for “Save Hangul” campaign, he did extensive campaigning in different schools in his area. During campaigning, he faced a huge audience. And every time, he stepped on the stage to address his audience, Zakir was only growing confident.

In 2012, along with his childhood friend (Syed Abdul Mohsin), Zakir joined a project, “Adobe Youth Voices”. The project, he says, helped him to polish his photography skills.

Apart from his interest for camera works and social activism, Zakir is equally devoted to poetry. He penned his first poem in 10th class and over the period of time, he has compiled a collection of his own English poems. And presently, he is writing his first novel “Nineteen”.

“Its [Novel] is all about love and career,” he says. “The story is based on a teenager who gives more importance to love rather than making his career and at last he understands that career must be his first preference.”

In 2011, he participated in ’30th National Shooting Ball Championship 2011′ held at Rao, Madhya Pradesh. In the same year he also participated in ’57th National School Games 2011′ discipline ‘Sepak Takraw’ held at Margoa, Goa. In 2013 he participated in ’31th National Shooting Ball Championship 2013′ held at Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. In 2014 he became the first youngest member of “Talent Club” of Islamic University Of Science And Technology, Awantipora.

With already an array of public performances under his belt, Zakir believes: to be remembered, live uncommon. “I once pondered over life and found social activism my goal,” he says.

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