Joining politics to disrupt J&K’s mainstream polity: IAS topper Faesal

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Shah Faesal, who resigned from service as an IAS officer recently, on Friday ruled out the immediate possibility of joining a mainstream political party and said he would go back to the grass roots and seek support for his “idea of disruption in Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream polity”.

“J&K’s mainstream, which fails to represent people’s sentiment, needs to reimagine itself and tell the truth. We have to disrupt politics, the way it is happening. I have decided to go to the field and meet stakeholders, including youth, before I take a final call on the future course of action,” said Mr. Faesal, 35, who created history by topping the IAS exam in 2010, becoming the first candidate from the State to do so.

Dropping broad hints at joining electoral politics, Mr. Faesal said he believed Parliament and the legislature were important spaces and that he wished to use these spaces for Kashmir. “Unfortunately, these institutions have been delegitimised. In Kashmir, the mainstream parties are handling municipal issues, while military handles the politics,” said Mr. Faesal.

Describing Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as “his inspirations,” he said: “the assassination of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari and rise of lynch mob extremism in mainland India became my tipping points to quit from government service. And my stay in Harvard University helped me realise that people do quit jobs in life to bring changes,” said Mr. Faesal, who hails from north Kashmir’s Sogam village.

“I appeal to India to come to the rescue of J&K. It’s time to build peace together in J&K and counter hateful elements of the country,” he added.

The IAS topper said he has no intention to divide J&K’s electorate. “I am not an alternative but an addition to J&K’s politics. My vocabulary and my representation will be as per the narrative of people,” he said.

He described his decision to quit as “a small act of defiance and protest against lack of political initiative to assuage the hurt feelings of the people of J&K.

“Denial of justice to people of Kashmir has resulted in mass escalation of violence in the Valley and a lot of lives have been lost. I wish to remind the Centre that Kashmiri youths’ right to life needs to be respected,” he said.

Mr. Faesal also pitched for the return of migrant Kashmiri Pandits, displaced in the 1990s, and said they were important for J&K’s diverse culture.

Without naming any party, Mr. Faesal said there had been serious attacks on the constitutional arrangement between J&K and New Delhi. “These are being invoked for electoral gains in mainland India. Attempts to undermine the legal entity of the State and pitting regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Leh against one another needs to be rejected,” he said.

Ruling out any chance of his joining the Hurriyat, he said they did not believe in electoral politics. “However, words like ‘right to determination’ or ‘azaadi’ should not be taboo words. We need to discuss them rather than allow them to simmer in people’s mind,” Mr. Faesal said.

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