A labourer from Kashmir inspires the world

PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat program features Manzoor Ahmad Allie of Kakapora in Jammu Kashmir which gives a boost to his business  

Javid Sofi

Kakapora: Manzoor Ahmad Allie, a youth from Okhoo village in Kakapora area of Kashmir, was dumbfounded to receive a congratulatory message from his friend from Mumbai.

“Congratulations brother! PM shared your story of becoming an entrepreneur,” Manzoor recalls his friend telling him on the phone.

Manzoor’s story of becoming an employer from a manual labourer was shared by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in the latest episode of the monthly radio programme, Mann ki Baat broadcast on October 25.

The program broadcast on All India Radio and DD News talked about people on different issues. Unfortunately, Manzoor had missed the radio program. 

“I was shocked, I never thought that one day I will be introduced to the world by the PM of the country,” Manzoor tells the India Bulletin at his Okhoo house.

”Now I am also happy because I am getting new orders from other companies after my story featured in Mann Ki Baat,” he says.

From woodcutter to an employer

A yesterday’s woodcutter, Manzoor is the owner of the biggest pencil slat manufacturing unit, which provides employment to around 200 boys and girls.

This medium-sized pencil slat making unit in Okhoo, which has earned the sobriquet of Pencil Village of Kashmir, has a monthly turnover of rupees one crore.

Today’s jubilant Manzoor recalls his past drudgery with the same sense of pride when poverty forced him to drop his 10th class in 1992 and he had to settle as a woodcutter ferrying loads of wooden logs on his shoulders. 

The struggle of the past

He recalls that it was around 2007 that a new brick kiln was set up in Okhoo near their residence.

“We sold one kanal of land to the kiln owner for rupees 55, 000,” Manzoor says, adding that they invested the amount for setting up a saw machine for making wooden boxes.

Manzoor, his father and a brother started making wooden boxes and then he travelled to Jammu area where he offered a pencil manufacturing unit for supplying finished logs. His proposal was accepted. For a couple of years, Manzoor continued supplying the Jammu unit with finished wooden logs. 

“The demand for our raw material allowed us to employ 15 people,” he says,   

In 2012, Manzoor was told to upgrade his manufacturing unit for making slats for pencils. 

“We installed new machinery. The trials were successful and we expanded employing around 200 people who included 30 females,” he says. 

Inspiration for many

Mudasir Mohi-ud-Din is a young worker at Allie’s pencil slat manufacturing unit at Okhoo. A resident of neighbouring Samboora village, Mudasir post-graduated in 2017 and subsequently worked in different companies. 

“I was getting pea-nuts for my hard work so I had to quit and start working here,” he says, adding that he is getting a decent salary. 

Abrar Ahmad Allie has been working here for the past four years as a supervisor. He says that after graduating from a government degree college in 2015 he was jobless for a year. “I applied here in 2016 and was selected for the post of supervisor.” Abrar is paid a monthly salary of rupees 16,000. 

Pulwama-from militancy hotbed to pencil district  

Pulwama, which has remained a hotbed of militancy in Kashmir, was hailed by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for producing more than 70 percent slats for making pencils in the country. 

Pulwama is supplying wood to the majority of pencil making companies in India which were earlier importing from China and other countries.

More than a dozen units in Okhoo, Lassipora and Sangam area of Pulwama are engaged in making slats for pencils. The local officials believe that Pulwama will soon be called Pencil district of the country.




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