Published: 17th May 2017
Move over Facebook, Hello Kashbook: Kashmir's 16-year-old Zuckerberg not allowed to use phone in dorm but still runs the Valley's only social network
Not all the kids in Kashmiri schools are pelting stones. Really. Zeyan Shafiq is fighting the system in a whole other way - by running a social networking site called Kashbook, from his dorm at school
Mark Zuckerberg was 20, studying at Harvard and created Facebook within the four walls of his dorm.
Zeyan Shafiq is 16, studying in the 11th standard and cannot answer calls after 6 pm because his dorm rules don't allow it.
But the teenager just created 'Kashbook', Kashmir's very own Facebook!
Shafiq has always had a hang of coding and technology from the time he was a child and since his father is also a former software engineer, Shafiq learnt coding very early on. When he was taught HTML in school, he began to dabble in software development too. As pretty much anyone else these days, Shafiq was always hooked to Facebook so when rumours of a social media ban started to do the rounds in 2013, the teenager joined hands with Uzair Jahan, another 20-year-old from the Valley, to try and set up their own version of Facebook.
First glimpse: Screenshot of the timeline on Kashbook
Coding for Kashmir's social network
So, the two set up 'Kashbook' with the intention of creating something that is exclusively for Kashmir. Though it was raw and not quite up there, it worked fine, "It didn't do well though, there were very few users and we didn't have any plans of promoting it at that point. The website wasn't very nice either, it had a lot of glitches and design errors. So after a while, we shut it down," Shafiq told EdexLive.
And then karma kicked in. When an actual ban on social media was issued a few months ago, Shafiq did not really think about reviving the site until he received a mysterious mail one fine day.
The mail was sent by a stranger who had asked the Kashbook founders why the site was not up and if it could be 'fixed' soon. "I was completely taken aback, I immediately sent a screenshot of the mail to Uzair Jahan and he was also completely shocked. We had no idea people were still interested in it. So that's when we decided that we would restart the site," Shafiq said.
Force awakens: Shafiq (centre) along with his friends
Hello world, this is Kashmir speaking
Apart from the fact that there is a social media ban, Shafiq said the motive behind 'Kashbook' is the desire to put Kashmir on a global platform, "All the other states have progressed so much so why should we not. I'm sure there are many developers in Kashmir but they won't get a platform, so I hope they will get inspired to take a chance with their dreams and talent. Also for anyone who feels like showcasing their talent can do so on the site," the young boy said.
To get an idea of how popular the site is, just ask Shafiq how much he's slept in the last few days, "Three-four hours maximum is all I get to sleep. Uzair works from Chandigarh where he's studying and I work here. I only go to bed at like 5-6 in the morning," he said.
Plus one: Zeyan Shafiq collaborated with his friend Uzair Jhan (above) to create Kashbook
Dorm rules still rule - no phone, no Kashbook
Here's the funny part. Shafiq can't continue his nocturnal timings anymore since school has started," My school started two days ago and we're not allowed to access our phones while we are in the dorm, so I can't do any work. He still has his "chori wala phone" (another phone that he has sneaked in) with him but he has no access to the site.
Now they're taking it to the next level. With their own app. "We realised since everyone has an android phone we should make the site an android app. So we want to add new designs and develop the app. So Uzair has taken charge of the design while I work on the app development," the young boy said. He also explained that there are two types of apps - native and web, the former can display even when offline while the latter can't. So they are working on making it accessible even when there is no internet.
Kashmir is my hometown. Kashmir Is love. Kashmir means everything. Kashbook is a result of love for Kashmir
Zeyan Shafiq, co-founder of Kashbook
Show me the Kash, yo
Once school ends - yes, school is in session during May in Kashmir - he's going to pour his life and time into Kashbook. "My school closes on June 3, so the minute I go back I'll start working on it," he said. But are his parents appreciative of his work? "They've been the ones to invest in the venture so they do support me," he added. While his father is a businessman, Shafiq's mother works at the Tahsildhar office.
So what's next? "To set up a team and to help him with the site". AND? "To get permission from his principal to use his phone and laptop in the dorm!" he says. And when asked if a meeting with Zuckerberg would ever be on the cards, Shafiq says definitely, "He's an inspiration, I would love to meet him!"