Crescent Kashmir

My ‘innocuous dissent’ was seen as act of ‘treason’: Shah Faesal on quitting politics

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Srinagar/New Delhi: Shah Faesal, the first resident of Jammu and Kashmir who topped the civil services exam in 2009, on Tuesday said his decision to join politics last year had done more harm than benefit as his “innocuous act” of dissent was seen as an “act of treason”.

A day after announcing that he was quitting politics, the 37-year-old defended his decision saying “we evolve with time” and abrogation of the special status on August 5 last year brought forth a new political reality in Kashmir.

Faesal had brought glory to the erstwhile state by standing first in the civil services exam and was seen as a role model for youths. He, however, resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in January last year.

“While in detention I thought a lot about it. And I realised that I am not the person who can promise to people that I can undo these decisions,” Faesal, who was released after being kept under preventive detention and later booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), told PTI from Srinagar.

Faesal said he was clear that the 1949 national consensus kept Article 370 in the Constitution and the 2019 consensus abrogated it.

“I told myself that I can’t do politics by selling false dreams of undoing these decisions and it’s better to quit and tell the truth to the people,” he said in written replies.

The doctor-turned-bureaucrat’s political career ended suddenly with the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM), a party launched by him in February last year, announcing on Monday that he had stepped aside from its leadership and quit politics. The party’s vice-president Feroze Peerzada was nominated as its interim president till formal elections can be held for the post.

About his decision of forming a political party, Faesal said he wanted to revive democratic politics in Jammu and Kashmir.

“But soon after quitting (IAS), I realised that my innocuous act of dissent was being seen as an act of treason. It had done more harm than the benefit,” he said, adding that his act had discouraged a lot of civil services aspirants and his colleagues felt betrayed by him. “It upset me a lot,” Faesal said.

Unsure about what the future has in store for him, Faesal said he always dreamt of a peaceful Jammu and Kashmir where there are best opportunities for education, health and employment.

“But I don’t know how that is going to happen now. As of now, I am not sure about my next steps in life,” he said.

Faesal had resigned from IAS before joining politics but his resignation has not yet been accepted, pending disposal of a show cause notice given to him by the government in 2018 for his controversial tweets. His name still figures in the list of ‘serving’ IAS officers on the official website of the Department of Personnel.

His decision to quit politics has prompted speculation that he may want to go back to government service if permitted.

The officials in the Home and Personnel ministry had said Fesal needs to first submit his explanation on the charges levelled against him after which the decision of accepting or rejecting his resignation would be taken.

Asked whether he was keen on re-joining the service, Faesal said, “It is a prerogative of the government… I have always said that I want to work within the system. Let’s see what is in store for me… fingers crossed.”

Faesal, a 2010 batch officer, was critical of the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year and was arrested from Delhi airport days later while he was boarding a flight to Turkey. He was subsequently taken into preventive detention and later booked under the draconian PSA, from which he was released in June.

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