Srinagar: Shah Faesal had shown the way forward to Kashmiri students, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Friday as congratulatory messages from political leaders, bureaucrats and others poured in for the Kashmiri doctor who had topped the Indian civil services exam.
"Faesal had shown the way forward to Kashmiri boys and girls," Abdullah said in a statement about the youth from Kupwara.
Faesal had proved that given a level playing field, Kashmiris could prove they are second to none in the country, the chief minister added.
"It wasn`t easy for the doctor who lost his father to bullets of militants to break into the elite services in his maiden attempt," Abdullah said.
Union Health Minister and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad added in his message that Faesal`s accomplishment should inspire youngsters in Kashmir to compete in similar exams at the national level.
Politicians, academics and civil servants in the state hailed the 27-year-old as "a role model" and said he had made the state proud.
Said Riyaz Punjabi, vice chancellor of Kashmir University: "Faesal has become the role model for other Kashmiri youth. He has proved beyond doubt that with dedication, ability and competence the local youth can do wonders."
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, issued a joint statement, saying that the intellectual potential of the local youth had been proved by Faesal, who belonged to one of the remotest areas of the Valley.
Senior administrative officers in the state hoped Faesal`s feat would lead to more Kashmiri youths attempting and clearing the civil service exams every year.
Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, a senior Kashmiri Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who stood second in the all India merit for civil services in 1982, said Faesal`s success was deeply satisfying.
"It is definitely an extraordinary achievement. I hope this triggers motivation among other youth here so that at least two or three locals make it to the civil services each year," Ganai said.
Another senior IAS officer, Iqbal Khandey, said: "It is a phenomenal achievement."
Abdul Gani Mir, a police officer who had advised Faesal on the subjects to choose and on coaching for the main exams, said Kashmir would show it had more talented people like Faesal.
"This boy has made us proud and this proves there is no dearth of talent in Kashmir," he said.
According to Rayees Ahmad Ganai, another local youth who has also made it to the coveted civil service list this year, the civil services exams were not as tough as perceived to be.
"It is a myth that these exams are difficult to pass. Focused studies, right choice of the optional subjects, right reading material and above all the confidence that one can do it is the mantra to pass these exams," Rayees said.
Faesal`s relatives in Sogam village distributed sweets among their neighbours and offered thanksgiving prayers there. His family said they were grateful to local officers who counselled and coached him while preparing for the exams during the last two years.
"These officers not only held counselling and coaching sessions, but also worked to create the vital faith among youth, including my brother, that we must shun our inhibitions and look forward to compete at all levels," said Shah Nawaz, Faesal`s younger brother.
No separatist leader has so far commented on Faesal`s achievement.
Born in 1983, Faesal did his schooling till Class 10 in a village government school. He topped the MBBS exams from the Jhelum Valley Medical College in Srinagar, where he also served as an intern.
The family shifted to Srinagar after his father Ghulam Rasool Shah, a school teacher, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in 2002.
Faesal moved to the Jamia Milia Islamia university in Delhi for coaching after passing the preliminary civil service examination.