Shah Faesal, who was an IAS topper from Jammu and Kashmir, is set to join the National Conference and is eyeing the Baramulla seat.
New Delhi: After months of speculation, Kashmiri IAS officer Shah Faesal has finally resigned from the services to join politics.
The 2010 batch topper sought voluntary retirement Monday to join the Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference. Faesal, 35, who comes from the Lolab valley in Kupwara, is believed to be eyeing the Baramulla constituency in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“He applied for voluntary retirement the day before, but the process takes time since it has to be approved by the DoPT,” a source familiar with the development told ThePrint.
Once his resignation is accepted, Faesal is expected to meet the National Conference leadership, including party chief Farooq Abdullah and son Omar.
“There will be a meeting between the NC leaders before his (Faesal’s) official induction into the party,” a senior party leader told ThePrint.
Omar Abdullah reacted to Faesal’s resignation on Twitter.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 9, 2019
Faesal has just returned to India from a stint as a Fulbright fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He arrived in the Valley on 2 January, after which he decided to resign.
Reasons for quitting
Later in the day, Faesal took to social media to confirm and explain his decision.
“To protest the unabated killings in Kashmir and absence of any credible political initiative from Union Government, I have decided to resign from IAS. Kashmiri lives matter. I will be addressing a press-conference on Friday. Attached is my detailed statement,” he wrote on Twitter, attaching a screenshot of a longer Facebook post.
To protest the unabated killings in Kashmir and absence of any credible political initiative from Union Government, I have decided to resign from IAS.
Kashmiri lives matter.
I will be addressing a press-conference on Friday.
Attached is my detailed statement. pic.twitter.com/Dp41rFIzIg
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) January 9, 2019
In the Facebook post, Faesal wrote: “To protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach-out from the Union Government; the marginalization and invisiblization 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 J&K State and growing culture of intolerance and hate in the mainland India in the name of hypernationalism, I have decided to resign from Indian Administrative Service.
“I wish to remind the regime of the day that subversion of public institutions like RBI, CBI and 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.”
Faesal also said he would “train and guide aspiring civil servants to help them in achieving this dream”.
Claim to fame
Faesal rose to fame soon after clearing the civil services exam in 2009, becoming the first Kashmiri to top the test. After joining the IAS, he was appointed director of school education in the Kashmir Valley.
However, his outspokenness on social media and criticism of the country and the government has led to several run-ins with the powers-that-be for breaching the All India Services (Conduct) Rules.
Last year, Faesal found himself in trouble when an official inquiry was launched against him for a remark on rampant rapes in south Asia. In a tweet, criticising the rape culture in the region, Faesal referred to south Asia as “Rapistan”.
Love letter from my boss for my sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in South Asia.
The Irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience.
I'm sharing this to underscore the need for a rule change. pic.twitter.com/ssT8HIKhIK
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) July 10, 2018
However, he refused to withdraw his comment in the face of the inquiry, and instead suggested that the inquiry was a classic case of bureaucratic over-enthusiasm.
“He is one of the rare officers who will criticise the government when needed, and, as a result, he neither gets along with the IAS lobby nor the central government,” a government officer said.
“He is generally perceived as anti-establishment… He’s more like an activist.”
This article has been updated to include Omar Abdullah’s tweet and Shah Faesal’s statement on his resignation.