We have heard thousands of success stories where people go from rags to riches. Kashmir, the alcove where conflict is a norm and daily existence for people is itself a survival challenge,a village boy from the inner core of forests reaches to the zenith of success only to fall of his choice.Today he is back where from he began but not before becoming the idol and inspiration for millions of youth of the country.
Shah Faesal, the IAS topper of 2010 batch was not an achievement but a history itself for being the first IAS topper from Jammu and Kashmir and first Muslim in India in the history of such a coveted examination.There after the flood gates of young boys and girls being selected every year opened since shah became national icon and change maker in the history of Jammu and Kashmir,at least for the aspiring youth of the state.
During his stint of nine years, Shah worked on various important portfolios of ACR, Deputy Commissioner but his tenure as Director School Education had itself been another epoch of change and refurbishment in the system. He not only took several revolutionary steps but gave teachers their due place and respect. He passed an order to call teachers “Sir” or “Jenab” and offer them due respect whenever they visit the Directorate which was seen as an emulation of western culture where teachers are at the top of hierarchy and most respected lot of society. He later served as Managing Director JKPDC before leaving for Harvard for Higher Education.
In his short span of Bureaucratic Career , Faesal had been the cynosure of debates ,vdiscussions and controversies. Whereas larger section of society looked up to him as role model but there is also a major chunk of people who raise question mark on his credibility and his becoming of IAS topper itself. The later depict his feat as a planned gift to legitimize the Indian occupation in Kashmir.
He wrote umpteen articles on policy matter but those concerning the conflict in Kashmir created storm in the state and for the executing agencies itself. His articles on Kashmir where He discusses the idea of India and future of Kashmir being safe with India created ripples and storm in the political landscape of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir even called him collaborator whose aim is to legitimize the occupation of India in Kashmir. Any write up both in social and mainstream media injected a thought and certainly backlash from the audience. He remained at the centre of discussion and debates in the social circles of state.
Even during his studies at Harvard, Faesal remained active via live videos and updates. He was served an explaination from his controlling department from Delhi for being vocal and criticizing the government on increased cases of mob lynching across the country. His response to the explaination was even more out of practice and protocol when He posted it on his twitter handler with a sarcastic remark “ I haven’t mortgaged my freedom of speech for monthly salary”. These bold expressions and extrovert remarks from a serving bureaucrat that too from Kashmir raised serious eye brows on Faesal locking horns with the system.
No sooner did Faesal landed in India, the news of his resignation began doing the rounds and social media was buzz with this new and surprising development. His inclination towards the politics was predicted by senior and world renowned Journalist Barkha Dutt in the month of July 2018 itself but none imagined that it would come since a country and more farther from a state where lacs of youngsters every year toil and squeeze themselves to be among the ranks of bureaucracy leave alone being the topper among the lot. But Shah Faesal put all the speculations aside with his post on social media that he is resigning from his job with detailed reasons of choosing such a path.
Faesal wrote on his "Facebook" handler a brief note sharing the screen shot on his twitter handler as well that he is resigning from his job keeping in view of unabated killings in Kashmir, marginalization ,invisiblisation of 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of hindutva forces in the country. He also castigated the neutralization of institutions and bad governance in the country. Kashmir erupted like a molten lava responding again with a mixed reaction of acceptance and rejection of his bold decision. People started circulating the news of joining national conference but Shah again posted a note calling for a youth convention in Kashmir to take the advise from the youth for his future course of action.
The story of Shah from a "Youth Icon" in terms of his professional excellence to a common man again in the lap of bigger political ocean is itself a genre of historical story, How a small boy from a distant village amidst the turbulence and bloodshed which even consumed the life of his father at a very young age, his migration, his struggle for being a Medico , turning to bureaucracy and finally settling from a fresh dot towards new political journey.
The decision of Shah Faesal is indeed a bold decision, a decision beyond the psyche of any common individual but the million dollar question arises as to how he would sustain his life time decision in a place ridden with conflict with each issue having hundred facets and multiple perspectives. Jammu and Kashmir is not state like delhi where an anti crusade and anti corruption protagonist Arvind Kejriwal was given decisive mandate for a better governance. Kashmir is a place where even the staunch supporters of main stream raise the slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” in the well of assembly. Good governance, development, infrastructure and plethora of welfare state measures go to bin when the cry of alienation and occupation hit the streets.
Shah was welcomed both by Umar and Omar where his coming was depicted by one as political gain and a new figure to ameliorate the sufferings of Kashmiris by other. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq even gave a tacit invitation to Faesal to make his choice out of his conviction for which he stood. Shah Faesal left joined the services with a purpose and today he is leaving with a conviction to allay the fears and ameliorate the sufferings of the people more particularly of the minorities and Muslims of india but to expect miracles from him is beyond expectations and mere exaggeration but he can undoubtedly make a huge impact on the political discourse in the present scenario.
Shah in his latest interview to BBC makes it clear that He wanted to serve the people through parliamentary means with in the ambit of constitution. He neither wants to float his own political party nor be among the ranks of separatists as being projected by many people. He wants to rejuvenate the public delivery system and governing parameters of the state through a regional political party. This must be born in mind that He is Kashmiri who made kashmir proud by his successes even by his idiosyncratic ways and being extrovert in his discourses.its too early to judge him from our fears and prejudices and make him party to one or the other group.
Let him settle, let him decide and let us see what He has in store for kashmir and country before we jump to our conclusions. All we can do is to hope for a new idea of kashmir which can at least lessen its sufferings and save its precious lives in the mayhem. Lets reserve our individual judgement for the time to come , if it hasn’t changed until now doesn’t mean we should resort of cynicism and hopelessness because even after decades of struggle, the ignition to French Revolution came from a baker shop which gave the world the principles of liberty and equality.