IAS officer Shah Faesal resigns, likely to join politics


JAMMU, Jan 9: Shah Faesal emerged as a youth icon in Jammu and Kashmir after he topped the UPSC exam in 2010. On Wednesday, he surprised many, particularly people outside the state of J&K, by announcing that he is quitting from government service to protest "unabated killings" in the state.
His posts, critical of the government, on the social media were an early indication of things to come. He recently returned from Harvard Kennedy School where he had a brief stint as a Fulbright fellow. While in Harvard, he was often seen taking to social media to criticise the Central government and "Hindutva Forces" who, according to him, were targeting Muslims in the country.
On Wednesday also, he used the same expression when he announced that he is resigning from the IAS.
Shah Faesal hails from a remote village in frontier district Kupwara of Kashmir. Youngsters like him were born and brought up in the worst situation in Kashmir when militancy engulfed every sector. Faesal's father was killed by militants in the late 90s. He became a doctor and later an IAS officer but was upset with the state of affairs in the J&K and the 'mishandling' of Kashmir issue by the government at the Centre.
Lately, he was seen getting close to some political parties, especially the National Conference. Rumours have been doing the rounds that it is only a matter of time that he takes the political plunge.
With state elections in the offing, his decision to quit government service and join a mainstream political party is likely to influence youngsters who follow him and treat him as their icon.
His intention of playing a 'communal card' seems a deliberate attempt to gain sympathy and goodwill in Kashmir just before the assembly elections.?
In a brief statement on Facebook, the 35-year-old said his resignation was also to protest "the marginalisation and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces reducing them to second-class citizens; insidious attacks on the special identity of the state and growing culture of intolerance and hate in mainland India in the name of hyper-nationalism".
Faesal, who recently returned from a foreign training and was awaiting posting, said he had decided to resign from Indian Administrative Service, "to protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach out from the Union government".
Without naming it, Faesal launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre, saying the "subversion of public institutions like the RBI, the CBI and the NIA has the potential to decimate the constitutional edifice of this country and it needs to be stopped".
"I wish to reiterate that voices of reason in this country cannot be muzzled for long and the environment of siege will need to end if we wish to usher in true democracy," he added.
Faesal, an MBBS degree holder, thanked his family, friends and well-wishers for supporting him in this "amazing journey in IAS. One of my important tasks hereafter will be (to) train and guide aspiring civil servants to help them in achieving this dream."
While he remained silent about his future plans and said he would be addressing media Friday to announce his next move, political sources indicated that he would be joining the National Conference and might contest the LokSabha elections from Baramulla parliamentary seat.
As soon as the news of his resignation spread on social media, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed Faesal to the political fold.
"The bureaucracy's loss is politics' gain. Welcome to the fold @shahfaesal," Omar tweeted.
Reacting to posts which claimed that Faesal will join the NC in the coming days, Omar said he only welcomed the IAS officer to politics. "Actually I welcomed him to the fold of politicians. His future political plans are his to announce," the former chief minister said.
Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also welcomed Faesel's resignation.
"Welcome the stand to resign by @ShahFaesal to protest unabated killing of Kashmiris by GOI," the separatist leader said.
"Hope his outrage over killings and his sentiment that #KashmiriLivesMatter guide his choice of politics and gets reflected in representing his people's collective deep driving desire of right to self-determination and their relentless struggle and sacrifice in achieving it - also the reason behind killings and repression on them by the state," he said.
The outspoken officer had courted another controversy when he compared Article 35-A of the Constitution to a marriage deed between India and Jammu and Kashmir, saying if the constitutional provision granting special status to the state was scrapped, the marriage will be annulled.
"I would compare Article 35A to a marriage-deed/nikahnama. You repeal it and the relationship is over. Nothing will remain to be discussed afterwards," he had tweeted.
He had said the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India took place before the Constitution had come into force. The IAS officer, however, said continuing the special constitutional provisions with respect to the state did not pose any threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
"Let's not confuse the issue. Sovereignty and integrity of India can't be challenged. Not at all. But the Constitution has kept some special provisions for J&K state. It's a unique arrangement. It isn't a threat to India's integrity at all," he had said.
According to the rules, the resignation of Fesal will be forwarded by the state chief secretary along with vigilance status of the officer. The resignation will be considered by the Department of Personnel and Training.

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