When Dr Rehana Bashir, a young medico from Salwah village in Jammu and Kashmir’s border Poonch district, passed the civil services exam with 187th rank on Friday, she not only became the first Gujjar woman from the state’s Pir Panjal region to make it to the service, but also symbolised the empowerment of a nomadic community.
Bashir is one of seven youths from Jammu region who passed the 2018 civil services examination, whose results were declared by the UPSC on Friday. The others are Sunny Gupta, Devahuti and Gokul Mahajan, all from Jammu, Abhishek Augustya and Harvinder Singh from R S Pura, and Babar Ali Chagatta of Gulabgarh in Reasi district’s Mahore tehsil.
Bashir, who cracked the exam in her second attempt, initially wanted to be a doctor. She did her MBBS from Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura in Kashmir in 2016. During her internship, she saw many loopholes in the medical and health department, and thus decided to join the administrative service. Her younger brother Amir Bashir, who qualified the civil services exams in 2016 and 2017, was an inspiration for her. Amir is in the Indian Revenue Service.
The head of the Gujjar Desh Charitable Trust, Javed Rahi, said that Bashir’s success indicated the empowerment of the Gujjar community, which forms the third biggest ethnic group after Kashmiris and Dogras in the state. The community had its first police officer in Masood Choudhary, who retired as IG and then became Vice-Chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri.
The transformation of the Gujjars virtually began with Revada Slam qualifying the civil services exams thrice in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and finally joining the services.
This was followed by Aijaz Chowdhary from Poonch qualifying the 2008 civil services exam and joining the service, followed by Dr Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary making it to the IAS in 2009. Since then, two to three youths from the Gujjar community have been qualifying the civil services exam every year, Rahi said.