Together At Top


It is a rare fate when childhood friends Junaid and Faizan shared first position in recently declared 12th class results.  Mudasir Majeed travels to Handwara to gauge the upbeat mood

Faizan Mushtaq

Faizan Mushtaq



Have you ever learnt about two close friends sharing the first position in any examination? If you haven’t, know it today! Call it a mere act of coincidence or sign of true friendship, the two childhood friends, Junaid-ul-Islam and Faizan Mushtaq of Handwara, Kupwara emerged as first position holders in the recently held board examination of 12th class.

I travelled more than 70 kilometers from Srinagar, to meet the toppers at their native places in Handwara. Following the different routes and paths to locate the houses of two, I finally reached Govt. Boys Higher Secondary Handwara, the school where Junaid has studied his 11th and 12th class. Pherun clad boys assembled in groups on the road outside the school were engrossed discussing the results. As I neared close to a group, I heard one boy saying proudly, “Junaid and Faizan hit centuries and made Handwara proud.” I asked one of the boys to lead me to houses of toppers; he pointed towards a lean boy, who was walking towards a nearby shop, and said, “That is Junaid”.

A shy boy, Junaid, wearing a woolen cap and face muffled, gets it right when I throw my hand flying to beckon him to stop. As we walk towards his house in Harpora, the passersby congratulate him and express their delight by hugging and kissing him.

Junaid and Faizen schooled together till 3rd standard at Model Public school Handwara, and it was then that the two took separate schooling with the former joining Kehkashan Public School Handwara and the latter enrolling in Welkin Higher Secondary School Sopore.

Junaid says he hadn’t expected to be a topper but believed that he would score well. “When I was in 10th standard, I had a dream to top the entire valley but that couldn’t materialize. I got 100/100 in each of four subjects and 57/100 in Urdu making 457 total score. Therefore from the past experience I had known it, but I did least know Allah would surprise me this way,” says excited Junaid.

 The wonderful bestowal, he says, from Allah is that the two childhood friends, from the remote district Kupwara stood first in the entire Kashmir.

The government school topper believes that 25% credit of his success goes to the coaching center he studied at and rest is the devotional hard-work of his teachers at school.

“Who says government schools don’t produce gems? The teachers there are qualified enough to shape the careers of students provided they (students) respond with the similar effort and sincerity. Whatever I, and so many of my classmates have achieved today, it’s by the sweat of the brows of our teachers at school”, says the valley topper.

“I would study 6-8 hours daily and during examination my day and night would reach in the same room,” says Junaid. While pointing towards a sunken spot on a carpet in his room, his mother says smilingly “That is where my son would sit. That spot is witness to his hard-work as it has worn thin during the time he sat on it”.

Faizan Mushtaq, the other topper, a resident of Jamia Qadeem Handwara, who wasn’t at home, spoke with me on phone and said that since childhood he has been taking mathematics tuition from Junaid’s father, Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, who is a statistics lecturer at Govt. Higher Secondary School Kupwara. “This brought us closer. Many times I would put up with Junaid at his house and we would study together. His father has been a great guide,” he said.

Junaid and Faizan secured 491 marks, short of mere nine marks to reach the grand 500/500. The duo believes that it is consistent study and perfect understanding of concepts that was the key to their successes. At present both the toppers are taking entrance coaching in Srinagar. While both wish to get admission in prestigious IITs, but Junaid says he would try his luck for JKCET MBBS as well.

When I ask the Welkin student, Faizan, what are his future plans, he says “There are very few Kashmiris representing Kashmir in IITs. It would be great if more from valley make up their minds and prepare for IITs. Kashmir needs representation everywhere. I want to be a researcher in physical and chemical sciences, God willing.”

Similar was the answer from Junaid although his mother has a wish that his son becomes a doctor but she says that Junaid can carry on with whatever he wishes.

When I asked Junaid to name any particular teacher who truly played a role in his success he said, “I cannot name any particular teacher because everyone put an equal effort while teaching me. But the principal, Mohammad Yousuf, who was transferred when we were about to finish our exams, really was a great administrator. Our teacher would conduct class tests regularly, which served as an incentive for us to study”.

However, Faizan said he would credit mainly his chemistry teacher Mohammad Shahid who has been looking after his studies since he was in 6th standard.

The toppers say that whosoever aspires to be at topper can only suit the action to the word by giving his/her 100%, pursuing the goal with consistency and studying with the aim to understand properly.

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