Former IAS officer Shah Faesal may become the advisor of J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha.
The speculation about Faesal being nominated as the advisor gained momentum after Baseer Khan was relieved of the said charge earlier this week.
The government, however, is tight-lipped about the former IAS officer’s fresh appointment. Off late, Faesal has been repeatedly praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah on social media.
Last year, 17 months after laying the foundation of a new political party, Faesal had resigned as president of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement. The 38-year-old former bureaucrat had also removed the party tag from his bio on social media that gave rise to speculation that he could rejoin the government or pursue other interests. Faesal had formed the party in March 2019.
Faesal had resigned as an IAS officer in 2018, citing personnel reasons. He was detained at the Delhi airport on August 4, 2019, after he reached the national capital from Srinagar, a day before Parliament pushed through constitutional changes revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating it into two Union territories, J&K and Ladakh.
In February, the Public Safety Act was invoked against him but was revoked before he was released in June.
Faesal was the IAS topper of 2010 and has worked in various positions in the Jammu and & Kashmir administration. The government didn’t accept his resignation. Earlier too, there were rumors that Faesal could be appointed as advisor of the Lt Governor.
Meanwhile, in the last 24 hours after protests rocked Jammu and Kashmir over alleged targeted killings of minorities in the Valley, former politician and bureaucrat Shah Faesal has tweeted, urging Kashmiri Muslims to “give confidence” to members of minority communities who call Kashmir their home.
Faesal tweeted: “We Kashmiri Muslims will have to keep our dead bodies aside, wipe our tears and come out first to give confidence to the courageous Hindu and Sikh members of our society.
The history won’t accept any alibi if this time even a single KP or Sikh is forced out of Kashmir.”
Soon after Faesal’s thread on Twitter about reassurance to Kashmiri minorities and ethnoreligious conflicts, there was news that the former IAS officer was likely to be appointed adviser to Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha.
In the last two years since he quit the elite government service to start his own political party, he has also quit politics after he was detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) last year.
Since then, be it praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Covid-19 vaccination drive in J&K or supporting the “India Together” campaign during the Rihanna controversy amid the farm protests, Faesal’s carefully crafted responses have set tongues wagging about his future.
If appointed, Faesal will be advising the L-G on local issues. This can be seen as an attempt by the central government to establish a political dialogue in Kashmir. Set in the backdrop of rising incidents of local militancy and attacks on Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs, Faesal could help start direct communication with the people of the Valley.
Faesal’s youth icon status will also help connect with Kashmiri youngsters. While previous advisers were good with strategy and counter-terror operations, they did not have a youth connect.
Faesal was the first Kashmiri to top the UPSC civil services examination but resigned after almost 10 years of service. A social media savvy IAS officer, his sarcastic comments about governance in Kashmir on platforms such as Facebook drew much attention. Shunted around and generally disillusioned with the bureaucracy, Faesal resigned from the IAS in early 2019.
Soon after a spirited speech in his hometown Kupwara in 2019, Faesal launched his own political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM). However, he was one among Kashmiri leaders detained during the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. He was also booked under the PSA in 2020 but was released after a detention of 10 months. Soon after, he quit from the leadership role of JKPM.
There is much confusion over his status as an IAS officer, with his resignation stuck with the Indian government for the past one and a half years. It is not clear, however, whether he will be back into the IAS fold or whether this is an individual appointment.
Incidents that have put Faesal in the limelight include his comments over rape culture in South Asia when he was an IAS officer. He was even reprimanded for the same. However, many of his anti-establishment comments have disappeared from his timeline on Twitter.
In the aftermath of the controversy on American pop-icon Rihanna’s Twitter comment on farm laws in India, Faesal also came out in support of the #IndiaTogether campaign. Commenting on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s tweet, he too said, “Yes. Ghar ki baat ghar ke andar hi achi.” (Yes, internal matters should remain within the four walls of our home).
He also made headlines when he slammed the Indian government over the abrogation of Article 370 during a BBC interview. He later retracted his comments on the same and said it was a “mistake”. Faesal wrote, “Oh yes. One would have to be far more careful with words when talking about India’s internal matters to a global audience.”
Harvard-educated, Faesal’s to-and-fro stand on the Kashmir issue has often drawn questions over his political affiliations or even his return to the bureaucracy. Earlier, rumour mills had indicated that he may be roped in as an adviser to the L-G of Ladakh.