With even his administrative training period two months away, Kashmir's first Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination topper, Shah Faesal (27), has been put under security cover in Kashmir. Two security personnel escort him to all locations he visits in a day.
With rims of pages written about Faesal by local newspapers and hours of local television footage devoted to him, the IAS topper has emerged as an iconic figure in the Valley.
"I was hugged by waiters in restaurants, who claim to be from my district. I received a number of invitations from organization, coaching centres etc to 'grace' their programmes," said Faesal, who is now fed up with the constant media gaze.
He wishes to return to his pre-IAS topper routine. "I want to shuffle back to normalcy now. I have stopped attending any function now," said Faesal.
Local newspapers in Srinagar are full of private advertisements by schools, colleges and organization congratulating the feat achieved by Faesal. "I received hundreds of letters. Our official mails are inundated by letters, articles and congratulatory messages from readers," said Ajaz-ul-Haq, edit page editor of local daily Greater Kashmir.
Of late, SMS jokes and social networking groups have been created to felicitate Faesal, whose achievement was celebrated across the Valley irrespective of political, social and class divide.
A senior police officer said the security has been provided "because he is a celebrity now and people mob him. So the authorities had to provide security."
The police also maintain a constant vigil in the uptown locality of Hyderpora, where Faesal resides. What panicked the authorities recently was a short message service news network's claim that Faesal has been attacked, which turned out to be hoax.
But Faesal --- who spent early childhood in Sogam, Kupwara, and 95 km north of Srinagar --- disagrees by the media description of him as "rages-to-riches story". "I am not a slumdog millionaire," said Faesal, who has studied in Kashmir's top school Biscoe and completed his medical training from reputed college.