SRINAGAR: The 2010-IAS topper Shah Faesal from Jammu and Kashmir quit the civil service job early this month to protest unabated killings in the Valley and join politics. In an interview to Fayaz Wani, Faesal said he respects everyone's choice and everyone should also respect his choice and maintained that people need to understand that solutions on Kashmir issue would come only from Government of India.
Q. Since when were you considering to resign?
A. I was considering resigning since 2016. The crisis in Kashmir in 2016 made me realize that we need an urgent intervention and we cannot afford to lose more people. And since then I was contemplating quitting the civil service job?
Q. Why you resigned before elections?
A. When there are elections, people are more ready to listen. The entire public narrative is charged up and people are ready to listen to you and notice you. There is nothing wrong in that. As long as your intentions are clear, there is no problem.
Q. You were an IAS officer and could have helped by remaining in the system?
A. I was not failing as an officer. But I could have done nothing in the crisis situation that was there. We have to understand that people here are not dying because we are not providing them with drinking water, electricity, etc. They are dying for a different reason and I had no choice but to speak about that problem other than resign?
Q. Do you think by resigning as an IAS officer and joining politics situation will change here?
A. I never say that. I am one more addition in this entire house of crisis and I felt that I had a certain kind of responsibilities towards people. I don't know to be seen as somebody who did not say or did not do anything when there was a crisis-like situation in Kashmir.
Q. We are seeing young and educated boys in Kashmir joining militancy. And in this scenario, you have joined politics. How do you see it?
A. Everybody picks his own journey in life. I have my own journey and am not asking or forcing others to join my journey. Everybody is free to do whatever he/she wants to do. I respect everyone's choice and everyone should respect my choice. We all choose our journeys as per our strength. This is my journey and people should respect it.
Q. Will your joining politics give legitimacy to mainstream politics in JK?
A. I don't think I am some huge political figure in Valley at this time, who will drastically change the political outcome in Kashmir. Even if I don't contest, elections are going to be held. People are going to vote. I don't think these apprehensions are correct.
Q. There were reports that you were going to join a political party and you changed the decision at the last movement. Why so?
A. It was all speculations. I had not made my mind about joining any party in the State.
Q. What are your future plans?
A. If it was about joining a political party and getting elected, then it is a very easy way and is always available. However, I will be taking a longer and harder route. I will be going to the people and taking a decision on contesting the polls soon.
Q. You say you resigned because of unabated killings in Kashmir. How will this help stop killings in Kashmir?
A. What else is going to stop! We have to understand that solutions will come only from the Government of India (GoI). Unless we tell Delhi that there is a crisis and problem here, nothing is going to happen.
Q. Don't you think the mainstream parties are not telling GoI that there is a problem in Kashmir?
A. One more voice is required. I am sure when I spoke there were definitely people who heard me. I am not sure how much impact it will make in the long term but yes, I am at least satisfied.
Q. Can you convince Delhi more than others?
A. We have to be more persistent. I have been in the system and I understand the nuances and the language the system understands. I will be very happy to talk to people in Delhi in the coming years. I will be persistent about it and honest about peoples' narratives. I will be trying to advocate their case.
Q. Will you be contesting the parliament and Assembly elections?
A. I was planning about contesting only parliamentary elections. But youngsters want something else to be done. I am dealing with a new situation and had not expected this outpouring of support from youngsters. I want to understand this situation before taking a final call. I want to contest the parliamentary polls. I wish we could generate movement about corruption and human rights violations in the State.
Q. Some people say Shah Faesal is Delhi's man in Kashmir. How do you see these allegations?
A. There is always a trust-deficit. We have seen betrayals. People have never been represented correctly. We have seen a lot of opportunistic politics in Kashmir. My intentions will be known to people through my words and works. I am not worried at all what is being said at the moment. What matter is how is a change going to take place?
Q. Do you think separatist politics is relevant?
A. Of course, it is. If it was not relevant then there would not have been any problem in the State. There is a huge crisis in the state because people have a sentiment and they relate to it.
Q. What according to you is the solution of the Kashmir issue?
A. There are already multiple visions of the resolution. People are talking about autonomy, self-rule, achievable nationhood, right to self-determination, plebiscite, etc. We have multiple options, which are possibly there. Let us first create conditions where those solutions can be discussed. Let us first talk about the process, talk about demilitarisation, enlarging political space, releasing political prisoners, repealing laws seen as irritants by people. I am talking about processes. Let us first build the confidence of the people and bring them to the table and then discuss the options.
Q. Don't u think this is a soft separatist policy?
A. These labels don't hold any meaning. I speak on the basis of facts on the ground. If this is how people feel, I can't talk something else. This is the peoples' narrative and I need to represent peoples' narrative.
Q. How will you manage funds for your political journey?
A. I expect to raise funds from the people. I have a huge tsunami of support from people within the state and outside. People want to come and donate money to me. Students are coming with their pocket money and tell me they will fund my campaign. I am not the person, who will be bribing people to vote for me. So I don't need much money.
Q. Is there any possibility of you reconsidering a decision to resign from IAS?
A. It does not happen that way. We take our decisions and stick by that.