‘It’s Not About Role Models Anymore’

Why he chose to to quit bureaucracy and join mainstream instead of Hurriyat, celebrated civil servant Shah Faesal answered many questions in a candid interview with Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today. Here is the transcript of the interview.

You resigned from the IAS, in January 2019, protesting against the continuous killing in the valley. Why have you resigned now? Why after 10 years of your service? The killings didn’t start last year?

I think I had a choice to choose the timing of my resignation because it was very important thing for me. I had only one job and one life and I could use it only once. So I took some time to think about whatever was happening around me. And I thought what possible can be done about it and I needed a roper time to do it and I thought this is a proper time to do it.

Are you saying that your resignation re not linked to the upcoming elections? Many are saying that you are seeking a political carrier for yourself?

There is absolutely nothing wrong in that and to break-in all the issues in public narrative at a time when the governments are in transaction and when things are changing and when people are making their choices. I think that is the time and possibly these things can be communicating to the people.  I don’t see anything wrong in talking about the issues at a time when people are primed-up to listen these issues.

But are you going to speak now about the political issues connected to Jammu and Kashmir or actually take the political plunge and have you decided to join a Political Party

For me what matters is that in our state who can we re-imagine the electoral politics. We have seen the youngsters have lost faith in the way elections are being conducted. We have history of rigging in the state. People have lost faith in the intuitions of governance and democracy. So as somebody who has seen the system very closely, I see it as an opportunity to build faith among the youngsters in these intuitions.

But there are reports that you are Joining National Conference, while others are saying that you may join separatist camp. Tell us clearly what are your plans?

I have made it clear to the youth of Kashmir that no decision will be taken without consulting them. So as of now I have ruled out joining any existing political party because if the idea is to create a new sort of politics in the valley that it may not be possible to do so within the existing Political parties. When it comes to Joining Hurriyat, honestly speaking I don’t think I have strength the separatists go through. The kind of struggle through which these people go that, I don’t think I can go that. So I am choosing an easier option of electoral politics.

When I spoke to you before 10 years, you were very excited to be part of governance and becoming an agent of Change. What changed in last one decade that makes you to believe that being a politician is better than a bureaucrat?

It depends the kind of challenges you are dealing with, as a civil servant, it has been the administrative issue, the developmental issues that we are dealing with. IAS has given me an opportunity in fact to work for the welfare of the people but then we are dealing with the political issues at the moment and those issues are more urgent than developmental issues. You give roads, electricity and water supply but at the same time you snatch their sense of dignity, you disempower them. What do you do with that road and other developments? So basically if there is a political problem it’s important that the response have to be political.

You were seen as a role model after you topped the IAS examination. Today people say that by resigning you have led down the Indian state and that you are speaking the language of separatists, that the nationalist Shah Faesal is now anti-national. What would you tell them today?

I think people of India need to understand the ground realities of Kashmir. I am in Civil services for last 10 years; I am somebody who has been part of Indian steel frame. I am not somebody who is going to lie and get carried away by emotions. There is a problem in field, our education, health, tourism and everything will work only if something happens to the political dispute and something happens about the violent conflict which has been here. So, it’s not about role models anymore, I think it’s more about who tells what kind of truth to the people of India. I think they should appreatiate that I am very honest to them and telling them the truth, which possibly nobody has told them before.

Let’s take a hard look of Politics in the Valley, poling at time has been at the single digit, Poll boycotts are being enforces at gunpoint, young people seems to be alienated, some of them are turning to stone pelters against the army. How can you re-imagine the politics that you are talking about in a seemingly hopeless situation? Are you completely romantic about what is happening when the reality is so different?

Gun has a context. It has not been here always, it came here after 1987. In fact, it was the failure of democracy that brought the gun into Kashmir and my belief is if we can somehow strength the institutions of democracy, people will not need a gun to express themselves. People will be expressing themselves to different means. 


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