At a time when veteran politicians are contesting the upcoming Kashmir Parliamentary bypolls for Srinagar and Anantnag constituencies, the profile of an unsung candidate, who looks like a typical chocolate boy seems both interesting and intriguing. This man, who is completely new to politics, is the youngest contestant for any Parliament seat and is a native of Kashmir.

Mehraj Khurshid Malik, a 25-year-old engineer, left his job with the software giant Microsoft to try his luck in the political turfs of Kashmir. He is contesting from Srinagar constituency as an independent candidate against heavyweights like National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah and his counterpart from the Peoples Democratic Party, Nazir Ahmed Khan. Malik’s poll symbol is a glass tumbler.

Born on Republic Day, January 26, 1992, Malik says that after witnessing the current situation of Kashmir and reading the history of the state, he decided to do something so that the unending cycle of violence comes to an end and people of the Valley move towards peace and prosperity.

In an exclusive chat with InUth, Malik bared his heart out. So what prompted the techie to jump in the political arena? “Had there been one reason I would have thought about it a hundred times but there have been thousands of reasons. We have seen hundreds and thousands of brothers and sisters dying every day. That creates a pain in our heart. Why is it happening and why aren’t the politicians able to correct it? So this thing always moves you to contribute towards peace and prosperity of the Valley,” he expressed.

Unlike the senior politicians who mainly address the potential voters by addressing big rallies through public address system, Malik is banking exclusively on personal interactions.

“Rather than rallies I believe in personal meetings, so I have been conducting only door-to-door campaigns where I have seen many people even coming in with enthusiasm from neighborhood houses to discuss issues including boycott with me,” he further added.

As a part of his campaigning, apart from residential houses, he has been meeting patients at hospitals as well. And Malik is optimistic about leaving a mark on the elections. “Firstly I am getting an overwhelming response. Everybody is showing huge interest in a new candidate and that too young and educated candidate. Secondly, they are already dissatisfied with the existing and old governmental parties. That has given me more enthusiasm and chance towards winning this election.”

He is equally optimistic about the voter’s turnout. “A lot of people said initially that since they are fed up with the government so they will boycott. But after our discussions, they are finally convinced and willing to welcome a candidate like me, who is a common man and so understands and shares the pain of fellow common men,” Malik said.

But then what if he loses, given the experience and influence enjoyed by his fellow contestants like Dr Farooq Abdullah? “Winning or losing is in the hands of almighty Allah, so I rather not question that because it’s he who decides. Maybe I win this time, there can be a chance. And even if the result is negative, I will keep contributing towards this field because I know I am honest by heart and I care for my people.”

Aamir’s message for the fellow youth concludes with a word on courage. “Direct message: If you really want to get rid of the old politicians then the best way is to elect a common man, your brother like me who understands you, who is educated, who can contribute towards enhancing educational system, who can protect innocent lives and has the courage to speak the truth in the Parliament of India,” he concluded.