New Delhi: Three years after Kashmiri IAS officer Shah Faesal quit the civil services to float his own political party, the Modi government has reinstated him as a deputy secretary in the tourism ministry.
The government issued the order earlier this week, according to ANI.
Faesal, who quit the services in January 2019, started his own party — the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) — in March, only to step down as president of the JKPM and leave politics entirely in August 2020. He was brought back to the civil services in April, but his posting was pending.
While quitting the IAS, he had said that he was doing so to protest against “unabated killings” in Kashmir and the “marginalisation of Indian Muslims”. However, his recent posts are mostly about endorsing the central government’s views.
The Print sought a comment from Faesal via calls and direct messages on Twitter, but did not receive a response till the time this article was published. The article will be updated if a response is received.
IAS topper, detention under PSA
In 2010, Faesal, a doctor-turned-IAS officer, became the first Kashmiri to top the civil services exam. He started off as an officer of the J&K cadre of the 2010 batch, but after the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir lost its statehood, and the cadre was merged with AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories).
In February 2020, months before he quit politics, Faesal was detained under Public Safety Act. Before his detention, he wrote on Twitter: “Kashmir will need a long, sustained, non-violent political mass movement for restoration of political rights. Abolition of Article 370 has finished the mainstream. Constitutionalists are gone. So you can either be a stooge or a separatist now. No shades of grey.” The post has been deleted since then. He spent almost a year in detention.
Days after quitting politics, Faesal said he was not averse to working for the government. In April this year, the civil list of J&K officers, available on the general administration website of the J&K government, mentioned his name as an officer who is awaiting posting. Around the same time, Faesal in a series of tweets, one of which said he was “excited to start all over again”. Barring one tweet, he later deleted the rest of the thread.
The party Faesal founded however did not cease to function. The JKPM fought district development council elections in 2020 and won a seat. It has a Facebook page, which carries comments from its office bearers, but it has no mention of Faesal anymore.
A change in tune
The pinned tweet on Faesal’s Twitter page says: “Kashmiri Pandit exodus is the darkest spot in our history. The bone-chilling memories of those terrifying January nights are here to stay till the day justice is done.”
On 2 August, he changed his Twitter display photo to that of the Indian flag, and tweeted: “Have changed the DP of my social media accounts to Tiranga on PM @narendramodi Ji’s clarion call to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. I urge all to change the DP of your social media accounts to Tiranga to show your love and respect towards the National flag. #HarGharTiranga.”
Over the past two years, he had been tweeting about blasphemy violence in Pakistan, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, to raise funds for Hindu migrant workers killed by militants in Kashmir, retweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s tweets.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)