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Kashmiri is first in India civil service exams

7 May 10 17:11 GMT
By Altaf Hussain
BBC News, Srinagar

A man from Indian-administered Kashmir has come first in India's civil service examinations, the first Kashmiri to achieve such a distinction.

Newspapers in the capital Srinagar have carried the story of Shah Faisal's achievement across their front pages.

Tens of thousands of candidates across India participated in the exams of whom only 800 were successful.

Very few Kashmiris take Indian civil service exams and even fewer succeed in passing them.

That is principally because of an insurgency that rocked Jammu and Kashmir state for much of the last 20 years.

'Nothing is impossible'

Shah Faisal says that the low exam turnout has much to do with "the mistrust of ordinary Kashmiris of the Indian mainstream".

"If my success is an event, it will surely change the mindset of ordinary Kashmiris," he said.

"It'll remove their apprehensions that they will deliberately be failed. I am sure a message has gone out that if you really come up to the standards set by the union public service commission, nothing is impossible for you."

Shah Faisal is among those who have been directly affected by the violence in Kashmir.

His father, a schoolteacher, was killed by gunmen eight years ago.

He says the family was gripped by a sense of insecurity and had to flee their home in Kupwara district to live in Srinagar.

"Such was the level of fear that I have not visited my home for eight years," says Mr Faisal.

He says that he did not join any coaching centre to prepare for the exams. But he says he went to Delhi at the invitation of a charitable institution which provided funds to at least 20 Kashmiri candidates.

Mr Faisal will have to undergo intensive training before being appointed a civil service officer.

"But I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can serve my community," he says.

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