Blind since birth, but Azhra Qureshi (27) from Rajouri district has a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Jammu and has also qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET).
Now, Azhra wants to do PhD and is looking for avenues.
“I approached the Chief Minister’s Office as well as the Education Ministry, requesting them to open up avenues for the disabled persons who want to pursue higher studies and list their competence on a par with those with normal sight, but there has been no response so far,” said Azhra.
Though being ‘totally visually impaired’, Azhra is blessed with some ‘natural gift’ as she can read and write from one corner of the right eye at a distance of 3 cm only and that too only under sunlight.
“I don’t know how sunlight opens a small aperture in my right eye that gives me a very blurred vision of things at 3 cm away from me. I use it to my advantage in reading and writing,” said Azhra, a native of Ujjhan, Rajouri, at present residing at Malik Market, Jammu.
She said she had passed her middle school exam by remembering the class lectures and then answering the questions put by the teachers.
But for the higher classes, she had to read and write which she did on her own by using her blurred vision. “I never used the Braille language of learning and writing,” she said.
Under the lamp or in shade, Azhra loses complete vision. “This is since birth. And, when my parents came to know about it, they made all efforts to restore my eyesight, but all in vain,” she said, adding that her eyeballs do not take any stagnant position at one time and keep on rolling, becoming an impediment to surgery.
Azhra is currently preparing for the Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) exam.
“I know I can qualify the exam. The only setback is that the state government needs to look into this particular disability and allow a help (at least a graduate) to mark my OMR (optical mark recognition) sheet as I often lose my vision and can mark the wrong answer,” said a confident Azhra.
When contacted, Secretary, Public Service Commission (PSC), Shakeel-Ur-Rehman said: “Yes she can go for the KAS exam any time. She needs to submit her disability certificate at the time of filling the form.”
The PSC Secretary said a helper to mark the OMR sheet would be provided to her at the time of the exam.