A New Aam Aadmi: Will Shah Faesal Prove to Be Kashmir’s Arvind Kejriwal?


A New Aam Aadmi: Will Shah Faesal Prove to Be Kashmir’s Arvind Kejriwal?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


n 2010, Jammu & Kashmir got its first IAS topper. It was historic: Shah Faesal, the son of a teacher father, grew up in Sogam, a remote village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Its close proximity to the Line of Control (LoC) ensured that Sogam remained ravaged by militancy in the ’90s – it even claimed his father’s life in 2002. At the time, Faesal, an MBBS with a Masters degree in Urdu, termed his feat as the “breaking of the myth” of discrimination. In fact, hundreds of local aspirants were stirred into taking the UPSC examinations after Faesal’s success, heralding a significant surge of aspirants appearing from Kashmir every year.

Yet Faesal’s stint in the bureaucracy lasted a mere nine years. On January 9, Faesal, the managing director of the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation announced his decision to quit the services as a sign of protest against the marginalisation of Indian Muslims. He termed his decision a “small defiance and protest against unabated killings in Kashmir, lack of reach-out and marginalisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces by reducing them to second-class citizens. A few days later, came another announcement: Faesal revealed that he’d decided to take the plunge into politics.