Srinagar, Jan 11: Three days after quitting Indian Administrative Service citing “unabated killings” in Kashmir, Shah Faesal Friday said that he won’t join the Hurriyat camp and instead would enter the electoral politics.
Faesal, an IAS officer who topped the 2009 UPSC exams, said that he would take the decision whether to join any existing mainstream party or contest independently only after “building a consensus with the youth and other stakeholders of the state”.
“I am not trained to do politics. I will like to work within the system and use my skills to do better governance. Hurriyat does not give me that opportunity because they don’t believe in electoral politics. So I won’t join the Hurriyat at the moment,” Faesal told a jam-packed press conference at a local hotel in Srinagar.
He said that people would know representative character of Hurriyat if the latter fight the elections. “We don’t know whether they (Hurriyat) will win or not. It is wrong to presume that Hurriyat has no role to play in our state. I value the suggestion of Hurriyat inviting me to join them,” he said.
Faesal recently returned to India after a stint as a Fulbright fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He arrived in Kashmir last week following which he announced his resignation.
Hailing from Lolab — a picturesque valley in the frontier district of Kupwara — the 35-year-old was a doctor before qualifying the civil services.
Hurriyat (M) chairman and one of the three leaders comprising Joint Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has welcomed Faesal’s decision of resigning from services in protest against “unabated killings” in Kashmir.
“Welcome the stand to resign by @ShahFaesal to protest unabated killing of Kashmiris by GOI. Hope his outrage over killings and his sentiment that Kashmiri lives matterguide his choice of politicsand gets reflected in representing his people’s collective deep driving desire of right to self-determination and their relentless struggle and sacrifice in achieving it – also the reason behind killings and repression on them by the state,” Mirwaiz had tweeted soon after he announced his resignation.
There are a lot of speculations that Faesal may join the National Conference and could be its probable candidate from north Kashmir for parliamentary polls.
The speculations gained momentum after National Conference senior leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah in a tweet said, “Welcome to the fold.”
Faesal praised Omar during the press conference.
“Omar is a gracious and supported me. Omar is a leader, who has been guiding me. The NC never approached me but I went to Omar for suggestions,” he said.
Faesal however said that he has not decided whether to join any existing political party or fight independently.
“My future plans depend after talking to youth and other stakeholders of the state. We will reach to consensus before taking the final decision,” he said.
He announced that he would contest the upcoming polls.
“I believe parliament and assembly is an important space. We need well-meaning people there,” he said.
He said that due to de-legitimisation of mainstream politics, youth were not interested towards it.
“We need to change that. I would like to use parliament as an important and useful tool of engagement for bringing a solution to our state,” he claimed.
“I will make people believe that it is a credible institution and not one to destroy people.”
Faesal said that he was inspired by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but said it was not easy to work in that space in a conflict region like Kashmir.
Asked that people have been critical on social media for his decision of joining electoral politics, he replied: “The moment you start your own party, people believe it is sponsored by agencies. If you contest independently, even then you are labeled as an agency person. If you join an existing party, people have problems with that as well.”
Faesal said that IAS has given him an opportunity to understand the development problems.
“I resigned against unabated killings, lack of political initiative, denial of justice to Kashmiris, Article 370 and 35 A continuously being invoked for electoral gains, Kashmiri pandits not made to return to valley, loss of lives along the borders,” he said.
Faesal said that constant efforts were being made to undermine the JK sovereignty.
“One region is being pitched against other in the state. There are curbs on the freedom of speech and even institutions like CBI and RBI have been undermined,” he gave these reasons for his resignation.
He appealed the people of India to come to rescue JK people and to bring peace across the country.
“We have to defeat the communal and hateful elements of the country,” he added, adding that Harvard gave him an opportunity to learn how to sacrifice big things for any cause.