After Shoeb Aftab’s NEET Feat, A Locality in Odisha’s Rourkela Keen to Forget A Terror Taint
In a narrow lane in Odisha’s Rourkela, there was a sudden bustle of cheer minutes after the NEET results were announced. People in Azad Mohalla in the town’s Nala Road, a locality that had briefly shot to national infamy just four years ago, were congratulating one another. They were too happy to know that a local boy, Shoeb Aftab, had become the national topper in the tough entrance test for admission to medical colleges.
Shoeb Aftab, 18, also set a record in NEET’s history by scoring 720 out of 720 full marks in the entrance examination. His neighbours were busy making congratulatory calls to him and his father, Mohammad Sheikh Abbas, after learning of his feat.
Aftab and his family are currently in Kota in Rajasthan where Aftab had been receiving coaching from Allen Institute for NEET for the past two years.
“Aftab was a meritorious boy from the beginning, always mindful of his studies. If I remember right, becoming a medical doctor was his childhood dream. I knew the boy would do big some day. I am very happy for him,” said Alexandar Desouza, the principal of Desouza’s School in Rourkela attended by Aftab.
Aftab’s father, Mohammad Sheikh Abbas, a civil contractor, kept making bridges and roads in and around Rourkela, as Aftab, his younger sister and his mother Sultana lived in Kota for the past two years. Soon after Aftab completed Class 10 from Desouza’s School with over 95% in ICSE, was got admitted to Kota’s Allen Institute to prepare for NEET while studying for Class 12 in a local college.
Abbas left for Kota via Kolkata three days ago after Allen Institute got him and some members of his in-laws to Rajasthan in anticipation of Aftab’s excellent result. The trips were all funded by the coaching institute. On Friday, it was formally announced that Aftab was the national topper and that he had set a record in scoring the highest marks ever. And then there was a wave of congratulatory messages.
“This boy, Aftab, has brought glory to Rourkela and Odisha at the national level. We’re so happy for him and are celebrating his achievement here. His feat has erased a little black spot that was unfairly thrust on our area Nala Road,” said Altaf Shakil, Aftab’s neighbour and headmaster of Plantside Urdu Primary School.
Nala Road was shunned as a dubious place after the arrest of four hardcore SIMI operatives in 2016, who were living there in hiding. The four – Sheikh Mehboob, Amzad Khan, Zakir Hussain and Md Saliq – were arrested from a rented house at Qureishi Mohalla on on the night of February 16 that year.
“That was a very unfortunate incident and unfairly brought shame to the whole area here,” said Afroz Ahmed, a Nala Road resident and an ex-councillor. “The four terror suspects were living at someone’s house here without the house owners knowing their nefarious activities. But now, excellence as shown by our local boy Shoeb Aftab has erased that shame. Good work is always rewarded and bad work punished in the end.”