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Militancy victim tops civil services - Doctor whose dad was killed by rebels scores a first for Kashmir

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By MUZAFFAR RAINA

  • Published 7.05.10
Faesal’s mother (right) celebrates
on Thursday

Srinagar, May 6: If a Mumbai court today threw up one sort of answer to terrorism with a death sentence, a young man from Kashmir provided another.

Shah Faesal from Kupwara, the Valley’s “gateway of militancy” through which most infiltrators enter, became the first Kashmiri to top the civil service examinations, seven years after terrorists had killed his father.

“I am not only the first Kashmiri but only the second Muslim to do so in the entire history of the civil service examinations in the country,” said Faesal, 26, an MBBS graduate and the topper among the 875 successful candidates in the 2009 civil service exam.

“I have broken the myth that Kashmiris cannot crack this examination. I cracked it at the very first attempt,” the young doctor added. Before him, only a handful of Kashmiris had cleared the civil service exam.

For Faesal, it has been a battle against odds: he and his family were so traumatised by the killing of his father in 2003 that they left their home in Sogam village, Kupwara, for good and moved to Srinagar.

People in Sogam today celebrated his success by bursting crackers, while hundreds of visitors arrived at Naveed House in Srinagar, where the family now lives, to congratulate Faesal. Kashmiri chefs were brought in to prepare the wazwan (traditional feast) for the guests, who were also served sweets and Kashmiri kahwa (green tea).

“Faesal’s father Ghulam Rasool was a government schoolteacher and his death was such a big shock for the family that they left Sogam, never to return,” said Ishfaq Wani, a relative. “His father was a very well known teacher, a gentleman and a non-controversial person who was killed without any reason.”

Faesal was to appear in the medical entrance examination the day after his father’s murder. “He was reluctant; it took us hours to persuade him to sit the exam. It’s a wonder that he secured a seat (in the SKIMS Medical College in Srinagar) despite the tragedy,” Wani said.

Faesal’s mother Mubeena Shah, also a government schoolteacher, said: “The IAS was his passion and he would ask me why I had pushed him into medical college. My answer would be that I wanted a secure future for him. I am happy that he has realised his dream.”

Shah Faesal

Tilat Rasool, Faesal’s younger sister, said their family home had been locked for the past seven years.

“My mother and brother never visited our village again. They were devastated by my father’s death, but he (Faesal) later began concentrating more and more on his studies,” said Tilat, who has been living in her uncle’s home at Sogam since she landed a government job there last year.

Tilat said that despite his science background, Faesal had chosen Urdu literature and public administration as his optional subjects for the civil service exam.

“Urdu is his passion and he has written several poems. He is a great fan of poets like Iqbal and Faiz Ahmad Faiz,” she said.

A total of 409,110 candidates had applied for the exam and 2,432 had been short-listed for the personality test, conducted in March and April, 2010. Altogether 680 men and 195 women have been recommended for appointment to the IFS, IAS, IPS and other central services.

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