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Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 10 Months ago

Malick Asghar Hashmi/Chandaini-Nuh (Haryana)

All your preconceived notions about Mewat, a Muslim-dominant district in Haryana, will vanish on reaching the village Chandaini, home to some 6,000 people and located about 70 kilometers from the capital New Delhi.

There are no organized ‘tatlu gangs‘ – conmen who use psychological tricks to rob people – nor do people here slaughter the cow, as against the stereotypical image of Mewat.

The optics of the village suggests that girls and women are free to go to schools and colleges and move around as empowered humans. The empowerment of women is part of the history of this village, for the people here have been sending girls to school and colleges even during British rule.

After traveling about three kilometers from Nuh, the district headquarters, we halted near an ancient haveli in Chandaini village.

A Haveli in Candaini village

Akhtar Khan, who worked with a Land Mortgage Bank and retired from it in 2013, was waiting for the team of Awaz-the voice. He was accompanied by two young men from the village.

The Haveli is situated near a Johad (water tank) and the air flowing over it keeps the temperature cooler than that of surrounding areas.

 Asif Ali, general secretary of Mewat Vikas Manch, said this village of some 2700 voters; has 360 wells. The Haveli is somewhat in a dilapidated condition. Chandaini is counted among the happiest villages of Mewat.

Sitting on a string cot inside the Haveli, Asif Ali narrated stories about the village. I was surprised to know so many new facts that surely people outside Mewat do not know. Most surprising were the facts and figures about the standards of education and empowerment of the girls of the village.

After listening to Asif Ali, I realized calling Chandaini the ‘model village of Mewat’ is no exaggeration.

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Building of as defunct Primary School in Chandaini

Nuh district of Haryana’s Meo Muslim-majority Mewat region is the most backward in terms of basic amenities, literacy, and dropout rate of girls in Haryana. Ironically, its boundary starts at the end of the modern Gurugram-Sohna Expressway.

As soon as you enter the jurisdiction of the district, you see bad roads and poor amenities.

The Nuh district comprises 431 villages. According to the data of the District Coordinator of Comprehensive Education, there are 941 primary, middle, senior secondary, high, Aarohi, Kasturba, and Mewat model schools in the district with 3,691 personnel running these.

According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate of Nuh district was 43.5. Statistics from the education department show that in 2021-22, 2,641 girls (6 to 10 years) and  1509 (11-14 year age group) dropped out of school.

In 2022-23, 839 and 389 respectively dropped out of school. Nuh has topped the list of the 100 most backward districts of the country released by the NITI Aayog.

Mastar Prahlad Singh Azad with his grand-daughter who is studying MBBS course

In such adverse circumstances, Chandaini continues to be the flag bearer of women’s education, and this makes it an amazing place.

I realized that 5 percent of the caste (non-Muslim) people living in Muslim-dominated Chandaini are also part of the progressive society where people have used education as a weapon of social and economic change.

Chetna, the granddaughter of the retired headmaster of the village, Prahlad Singh, is pursuing her MS (doctor) in Ayurveda from AGT University, Gurgaon.

One of Akhtar’s daughters worked as a news anchor with Television channels and these days she is completing her Master’s degree in English language from Girls College, Gurugram.  Akhtar’s second daughter has already completed her Master’s degree.

Asif Ali, who accompanied Awaz-the Voice to Chandaini, is also an MA B.Ed. One of his sons has completed his MBA and the other is working as an accountant.


Shamia Arzoo with her Pakistani cricketer huasband Hasan Ali an Sania Mirza and Shohaib Malik (Courtesy: Twitter)

Dishad, daughter of Haryana Waqf Board State Officer Khurshid Ahmed, is working as a senior executive in an MNC in Dubai.

Liyaqar Ali, the elder brother of Asif, has retired as the Block Development officer in the Haryana Revenue Department. His daughter Shamia Arzoo is working as an aeronautics engineer with Emirates Airlines in Dubai.

Shamia has completed her aeronautical engineering at Manav Rachna University, Faridabad.

In August 2019, Shamia Arzoo was married to Pakistani cricketer Hasan Ali.

Aarti of the village is completing her graduation in law from Sonipat.

Asgar Patwari has three sons and one daughter doing an MBBS course.

Fakhruddin’s younger brother Mehboob is an architect in Gurgaon and his sister has done LSW from Aligarh Muslim University.

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Aftab who is studuing engineering from G D Goenka College of Engineering

Zakir’s daughter is a doctor working in Gurgugram. The list of highly educated people, especially girls, is exhaustive.

The young generation of the village is embracing new careers and economic opportunities. Some of them are even venturing into a career in ‘block change’ and cryptocurrency.

The 21-year-old Aftab is completing his degree in computer science from GD Goenka University. However, he is keen to pursue a career in cryptocurrency.

Her younger sister Alisha is planning to pursue a career in fashion design. Villagers told me that about 15 youths from the village are studying in major private universities like GD Goenka to try their luck in new fields. There are girls among them. The bus of the GD Goenka University comes to pick up and drop off students in the village every day.

Akhtar said Chandaini is a fully literate village; everyone no matter boy or girl is interested in education.

Mohammad Rafeeq and Asif Ali

Farooq and Engineering student Aftab said that 20 percent of the youth of the village have been working as motor mechanics in Nuh City. But his expertise is so good that if he pulls out of work, the people of Nuh will not be able to get their vehicles fixed.

According to the villagers, a large number of boys and girls of Chandaini are at present holding small and big positions in schools, as teachers, lawyers, and in the police.

Akhtar’s son-in-law is an IPS. Chandaini also has 11 sisters who have earned names in various fields including education after getting higher education.

Master Prahlad and Qari Ramzan are two names on the lips of every villager in Chandaini. Prahlad Singh Azad, who retired as Head Master in 2004, was the first to pass his matriculation in the village.

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Another haveli in Chandaini

He passed matriculation in 1963 and was reinstated as a teacher in 1965. The villagers consider the daughter of Maulvi Subhan Khan as the first woman from the village who passed her matriculation examinations about 60 years ago.

The villagers say it was due to the efforts of Master Prahlad and the late Qari Ramzan, that a wave in support of education has been sweeping the village.

According to Akhtar and Asif, whenever Master Prahlad saw any child roaming around aimlessly, he would make him sit down and start teaching him then and there. He even visited the fields to catch children not studying.

Master Prahlad, told Awaz-The Voice, many people, including Liaquat Ali (Retired BDO), received a good education and gave themselves and their children a good life.

Prahalad proudly says children who have been taught by him are today prominent personalities of village society.

Tearing down the ‘closed society’ of Mewat, the village community is not only progressing through education but the locals are also fighting the forces and the mindset that is against girls’ education.

Akhtar says that when his daughter became a Television anchor, many uncharitable things were said about her and the family. This was part of their effort to dissuade his daughter from taking up a non-conventional job.

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Not caring about what others said, he sent his daughter Mumtaz Khan out of Mewat for training to become a TV news anchor.

Many families of this village shifted to Mewat to be able to send their children to college.

Outside this village in the rest of Mewat, women are stopped from pursuing education on the pretext of security, purdah, and Islam, etc.

Shabnam, the second of the 11 sisters, says that due to the regressive environment around many villagers from Nuh and Chandaini have shifted to Gurugram. Chandigarh and other cities.

Akhtar and Asif say that they are troubled by such protests while Kari Ramzan opened a seminary for girls.

In this, only 313 girls are admitted. Akhtar’s daughter-in-law Fatima has studied Alim from the same madrasa. In this madrasa, girls are given modern education along with religious education.

Qari Ramzan got his education from Darul Uloom Deoband. He managed to get financial support from many Islamic countries to establish the madrasa for girls.

The girls’ madrasa has a library with books on Islam. It enables the villagers living in Chandani to understand Islam properly. Qari passed away 10 years ago, his work is being continued by his children.

What is behind Chandani becoming a bright spot amidst a dismal and regressive scenario around Mewat? Nobody seems to have any idea of this.

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Akhtar Khan (left), proud father of former TV news anchor Mumtaz Khan

Akhtar Khan claimed that this village, situated near the foothills of the Aravalli hill, once faced a severe flood during British rule. Gurgaon’s water had also entered the village through canals.

Due to this, all the crops of the village were destroyed making the villagers think of turning to blue-collar jobs that came with education.

That’s why with the change of time, the trend of the villagers continued pursuing education along with farming.

Even in agriculture, Chandaini farmers are known for growing wheat and melon.

However, Asif Ali differs from Akhtar on this. He says that Chandaini was always a prosperous village and the remnants of about 25 havelis is a sign of this.

He speaks of Sardar Khan of the village who, like Liaquat Ali, was an influential figure. He was even conferred the title of Bahadur by the British and was a well-known figure across India.

Asif says that after the partition, his son Sardar Ahmed Tufail became a minister in Pakistan.

Chaudhary Yasin and his son Chaudhary Tayyab hailed from the neighboring village of Rehna. However, they were influential persons in Chandaini.

Chaudhary Tyyab has been elected to Lok Sabha and Assembly several times. He also became a minister in the government of Haryana, Rajasthan, and United Punjab.

His son Zakir Hussain has also been elected MLA several times. Zakir’s sister Zahida is an MLA from Cama in Rajasthan. Zakir’s elder sister Anjum is a senior medical officer.

Chaudhary Yasin’s family had established Mewat’s first Braille Meo School in Nuh, which later became Yasin Khan College. On March 28, it completed 100 years of its establishment.

The people of Mewat wonder why even after the passage of 100 years this college has not been upgraded. They say it should have been expanded on the line of New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia.

ALSO READNuh’s Niyaz Khan and his 11 daughters who swam against the tide for education

Mohammad Rafiq, who has a Ph.D. degree from Jamia Milia Islamia University, says Yasin Degree College could have been elevated to a university. However, neither the founder family showed interest nor the rest of Mewat seek it.

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