It is time for reimagining Jammu and Kashmir politics, says Shah Faesal
Shah Faesal, the 2010 IAS topper from Jammu and Kashmir who recently resigned from bureaucracy, called for reimagining mainstream politics in the restive state and bringing the vocabulary of azadi and plebiscite into the mainstream discourse.
“In our political discourse, there are certain taboo words like we should not talk about. Azadi or right to self determination or plebiscite. I think let mainstream politics open its eyes to this vocabulary and re-imagine and own it up,” Faesal said in his first press conference after his resignation, in Srinagar.
The 35-yearold, who hails from Kupwara district, became a household name after he became the first person from Jammu and Kashmir to top the IAS exam in 2010.
Stating that he wouldn’t join any political party now, he said will contest the upcoming elections in the state.
He said when it comes to resolution of political dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, mainstream political parties have “not been able to represent the peoples’ sentiment correctly”.
“Somebody has been saying that it is developmental issue, somebody said it is a religious issue, somebody said it is an issue about jobs, somebody said that it is because youngsters are drug addicts. This is the kind of narrative which has been fed to the rest of the country. We need to change this and tell truth about Kashmir to rest of the country,” he said.
Talking about anger in the Valley over how mainstream has conducted itself, he said he wanted create a niche outside the existing narrative.
“My narrative is that there is a sentiment in Kashmir and that sentiment needs to be respected and represented correctly to the rest of the country,” he said.
“We need to re-imagine and we need to tell the truth. As of now, I don’t have any plans to join any existing mainstream party. I plan to go to the field, listen to the ground whispers, talk to youngsters. I will be very happy to contest upcoming elections,” he said.
In fact I believe that Parliament and legislative space is a very important space and we need well meaning and right people there. I wish to use Parliament as an important source of connection and engagement for brining solutions for our state,” he said.
Act of Defiance
Faesal talked about his resignation as his “small act of defiance” to remind the central government of its responsibilities towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He went on to talk about how lack of a credible political initiative from the Centre and denial of justice to the people of Kashmir has resulted in “massive escalation of violence in the Valley due to which lot of lives have been lost in the recent years”.
He also blamed the government for its failure to facilitate the homecoming of Kashmiri Pandits.
Wrong to Dismiss Hurriyat Role
Faesal said he did not want to join Hurriyat as he was a man “from the system and my specialisation is in governance”.
“I am not essentially trained to be in politics. I will be happy to do something in an institution where I can use my skills as a governance administrator. I wish I could do that elsewhere as well. Because Hurriyat doesn’t give me that kind of opportunity, very rightly, because they don’t believe in electoral politics, I may not be able to do that,” he said.
However, he did not dismiss Hurriyat as having no role in the state.
“I think it will be very wrong to presume that Hurriyat have no role to play in our state. We should be able to judge the representative character of the Hurriyat when you give them an opportunity to fight elections,” he said.
Faesal said he would be happy to do a retake of what Imran Khan and Arvind Kejriwal did if the youth allowed him to do so. He also praised National Conference leader Omar Abdullah for guiding him from time to time.