Raja Syed Rather
Ganderbal, Feb 21: Meet the foot soldier from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district – Bilal Bhat – a social reformer, campaigner and motivational speaker. Bhat, 37, is a perfect example of dedication, hard work and commitment. He has more than 14 years of experience in the field of social reform and women empowerment in Jammu & Kashmir.
Having done a PG in Commerce and Disaster Management, Bhat is pursuing a Masters in Social Work. He has also done BA in Education and holds a degree in Computer Applications.
Bilal reached all corners of the J&K at the grassroots level with the policies, programmes, schemes and initiatives undertaken by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for the greater good, welfare and empowerment of the weaker and underprivileged sections of society. During the last five years, he has been involved in women’s and girls’ empowerment through the welfare schemes of the Ministry of Women & Child Development Government of India and the Department of Social Welfare Government of J&K.
“The empowerment of women and serving society has been my lifelong mission,” Bilal said.
“I am very much happy to have chosen social work as my career. It works on the thread of improving the lives of people through various facets including education, food, shelter, education, personality development, spreading awareness, and many others. A dedicated social worker can make a difference in someone’s life,” Bhat said.
He has successfully managed to organize thousands of seminars, public meetings, programmes and camps with all stakeholders, especially Judiciary, Police, Social Welfare, Centrally sponsored schemes of the Department of Social Welfare Jammu and Kashmir under Mission Shakti, Skill Development, etc. He has been awarded by different agencies, Departments for his work in the field of widow welfare, environmental protection, poverty alleviation, social welfare, gender equity and others.
The purpose of these gatherings, Bhat said, is to increase awareness about unlimited schemes available for women in distress situations.
In addition, Bhat also carries out door-to-door campaigns in villages, tehsils, and far-flung areas of various districts to sensitise women about their rights.
Bhat said that he started his social work journey in 2009. He has been a national campaigner associated with J&K Women Helpline – 181 since 2018. The helpline is a project of the Ministry of Women and Child Development Government of India implemented by the Department of Social Welfare Jammu and Kashmir.
Bhat is also campaigning about the Centrally-sponsored schemes of the Department of Social Welfare Jammu & Kashmir and has spread the message “Break Your Silence Raise Your Voice, Suicide Is Not A Solution” among more than 5.50 lakh women across the Union Territory of J&K. He focused his outreach, especially in the far-flung areas of Uri in Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Budgam, Baramulla, Kulgam, Pulwama, Handwara, Drass -Kargil, Sonamarg, and Ganderbal. “My mission is safety, security, sustainability and well-being of the community, especially women,” he said.
He also voluntarily assists the Administration, Health Department, Rural Department, Panchayati Raj Members and other departments from time to time in terms of awareness, support, guidance, cooperation and more.
Bhat has always been sensitive to the community’s needs, especially women who are facing domestic violence, sexual harassment, eve-teasing, cybercrime, dowry abuse, etc. He has for many years shared with them the Centrally-sponsored schemes that work to address these needs.
He has played an active role in disaster situations in Kashmir like floods, earthquakes, fire incidents, disease, etc. In this winter, Bhat launched a special campaign in the far-flung areas of Sonamarg, Chattergul, Margund, Rayil, Kullon, Wangat, Gutlibagh, Babawayil, Bala Gujrat, Chattergul, and Babareshi Bala, in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.
He reached north, central and south Kashmir to sensitise the youth of both genders in different degree colleges, higher educational institutions, different NGOs, government departments, and projects like Umeed, Crisal Foundation, Orphan in Need, Sheep Husbandry Department, Agricultural, Horticulture, Education and so on. He apprised the youth of the ill effects of drugs and their impact on society.
Bhat is a State awardee, honoured by the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Jammu & Kashmir. This took place on 8th March, International Women’s Day, 2022. He was named the Best Campaigner cum Motivational Speaker for his work and has been awarded by the World Book of Records London, UK. He has also been awarded by the District Administration Ganderbal in the category of Social Reformer cum Empowerment.
Bilal Bhat has been nominated by District Administration Ganderbal as campaigner cum active member for Nasha Mukt Abhiyan and Internal Sexual Harassment Committee.
During COVID-19, Bhat started distributing free masks and held door-to-door campaigns, informing people to take proper precautions. As people felt the need for oxygen during COVID-19 times, he started fundraising in August 2021 in his Tehsil Tullamulla and to make his idea successful, he called an emergency meeting with senior citizens of the community, friends and family with the only purpose to collect donations from the public under Islamic System of (Bait-ul-Maal) for buying oxygen concentrators as a backup to patients, especially elderly, ill and affected by the virus.
While Bilal’s work is mostly limited to J&K, his fame has reached far and wide. He has been striving to develop and recognize Kashmiri art, culture, literature, and natural resources. He has been appreciated by many who recognise his efforts for improving education, women empowerment and the fight against poverty.
Social workers, he said, pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. “These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision-making for all people,” he explained.
He credited his parents and people for a “successful” career as a social worker. “I will continue to contribute my expertise, dedication and passion towards the masses,” he said.
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