March 2017 News

Srinagar Lok Sabha By-poll,Engineer Gives Up Job To Challenge NC, PDP

27 March 2017
Kashmir Monitor
Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar: A few months back, Mehraj Khurshid Malik, an engineer, was earning well by working for a Microsoft company in Bangalore. On January 26, when he turned 25-the minimum age for contesting Lok Sabha elections-he decided to fight the upcoming parliamentary by-polls from Srinagar constituency. Hailing from south Kashmir's Kulgam district, Mehraj is contesting as an independent against eight candidates of various political parties, including heavyweight politician Farooq Abdullah. 'The successive governments have failed the people of Kashmir. These politicians are only playing the blame game, without doing any good for people of the valley,' he told The Kashmir Monitor. He said a 'radical change' was required, and possible only when an honest person will join the politics and protects the lives of youth of the valley. Mehraj, who is youngest candidate in fray, said he will 'represent the aspirations' of people of J&K in the parliament. 'I will let the people of India know about the real problem in Kashmir. I will influence the central government's decisions and give them a new policy so that human rights violations are stopped and there is end to the bloodshed in Kashmir,' he said. Asked how difficult it may be to fight against NC and PDP candidates, he replied, 'Money and muscle have a great influence across the country.' 'I have no money, but I request people not to waste their votes. They (other candidates) may offer you money for short term benefits, but I can provide long term solutions to the problems prevailing in our society.' Mehraj, who did his schooling in Jammu and completed engineering from a college in Punjab in 2014, said the killing of people 'forced him' to enter politics. The 25-year-old contestant said he was not inspired by any young leader. 'What motivated me to come into politics is the poverty that exists in our society. I want to overcome the inequality,' he said. So far, Mehraj said, he has not been associated with any political party, but has been inclined towards politics since his childhood. 'My father, who is a social worker, mother (a house wife), and two younger sisters are supporting me in these elections,' he said. 'I am sure people will vote for me and give youth like me a chance to serve them.' On contesting the election from Srinagar and not from his native village, he said, 'More people know me and my family in Srinagar than in Kulgam, because my father has been working for the downtrodden people here.' His family lives in a rented house in uptown Srinagar. He said the election is an opportunity for people to give a befitting reply to those politicians who failed them for the last 70 years. 'No political party did any good for JK, despite remaining in power in centre as well as in the state,' he said, appealing the youth to join politics and 'decide their future'. 'These politicians only give us false hopes. Let youth come forward and share their ideas, expertise with regard to technology, which can bring a huge change in the society,' he said, adding that he would continue to be in politics irrespective of his win or loss.