Why Shah Faesal’s Reasoning Behind His Resignation Is Unreasonable

In an era of fake news, it took some time for this rumour to turn true. The celebrated IAS topper from Kashmir, Shah Faesal, has resigned from the elite civil services – bringing an end to months of speculation. And, as expected, he is set to join politics soon.

However the Harvard-returned Shah Faesal sounds altogether different from bureaucrat Shah Faesal. There’s even a clash over the reasons he publicly gave for his resignation than what he has actually mentioned in his resignation letter.

On Friday he held a press conference in Srinagar thus formally ending months of speculation about his future plans. He looked a bit uneasy at his maiden press meet and as a result kept many cards close to his chest. May be, he doesn’t want yet to be proved so fast. The youth-icon looked even reluctant in sharing the real reasons behind his political ambitions.

Virtually snubbing the separatist politics, Shah Faesal said he was not joining any mainstream political party any time soon. He said he would meet with stakeholders and the youngsters before taking the plunge in the mainstream.

A recipient of the 2018 Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School, Faesal announced his decision to resign soon after returning to his homeland from the US after completing an international program there.

Well, there’s nothing wrong if a youth icon quits the civil services as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejrival, who is also a former civil servant has already set an illustrious example on this front.

But the excuse Shah Faesal gave sounds implausible. After all, sudden cynicism towards milestones achieved shouldn’t be a stepping stone to new optimism.

In his facebook post confirming about his decision to resign Faesal said: “To protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach-out from the Union Government;  the marginalisation and invisiblisation 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 mainland India in the name of hypernationalism, I have decided to resign from Indian Administrative Service.”

By raising concerns on Kashmir and Hindutva in one breath, Faesal tried to hit two birds with one stone, touching the raw nerve of the twin-narratives, which sell the most in the Indian politics.

From “marginalisation” to “invisiblisation”, his selection of words looks impressive – as expected from a man of his intellect.

But then, the larger message conveyed isn’t that compatible with average commonsense.

Well, if “unabated killings” make a reason for his resignation, his civil services innings had actually started in the midst of an unusual level of killings in 2010. That year, Kashmir witnessed street protests that left around 120 civilians dead. Interestingly, that time, it was the government headed by Omar Abdullah, the same man, who looks at Faesal’s resignation as a “loss” for bureaucracy and “gain” for politics. His political party, to be precise.

Then, there was an even longer agitation in 2016. Around 100 civilians were killed and more than 20,000 wounded.

According to official data, since the 1990s, when militancy erupted in Kashmir, more than 41,000 people have been killed in armed violence in the state.

If “unabated killings” are really Shah Faesal’s concern, the 35-year-old seems to have just come out of a prolonged slumber.

But then the excuse Faesal has given on social media is different from what he has given in his resignation letter to the government. As per the daily Tribune, Faesal “has not taken a high moral ground in his resignation letter to the J&K Government.”

“In a brief ‘letter of intimation’ to the J&K Government through the Chief Secretary dated January 4, sources revealed, Faesal wrote ‘that he wants to work towards peace-building’ while showing his intent to resign from the services,’ the daily reported exactly on the day, Faesal addressed the presser in Srinagar.

And then, the larger question is – if a resignation can bring an end to “unabated killings”? Well, if words alone could ever make a shield against bullets, Kashmir would have been a fortress of peace.

On the Hindutva issue, Faesal complains of the “invisiblisation” of “Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces”.

Well, is this man – who is also an MBBS doctor by qualification – prescribing escapism for Muslims from the bureaucracy as an antidote to “hypernationalism” of the Hindutva forces?

In a country where the Sachar Committee Report, endorsed by the Parliament, observed that Muslims with “marginal representation” in the civil and police services were more backward than even the SCs and STs, Faesal’s newly-found reasoning can only further that backwardness.

The youth icon, who shot to fame for being the first Kashmiri to top the IAS, now sounds confused about his own achievements and future ambitions which he is reluctant to share at this moment.

In 2016, Faesal hogged the headlines when a section of the media compared him to slain Hizbul Mujahedin commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Annoyed at the “juxtaposition”, the young officer had threatened to resign from the services at that time.

Interestingly that year, as the Director School Education, Kashmir, he had already been in news for frequent teacher protests against the department.

In 2018, he stoked an even bigger controversy by calling India “Rapistan”.

Putting onto social media the explanation as sought by the government for his comments, this civil servant termed official correspondence “love letter from my boss.”

A cursory glance at his service tenure looks interesting.

He remained more in the news for controversies surrounding his social media posts – as opposed to something extraordinary this IAS toper could have actually done for the people.

A daredevil move to resign from a secure job of high repute is appreciable.

But his detractors may call it lust for more power.

However, as Shah Faesal eyes new achievements, it’s time to wish him all the best.

Hope that the controversial bureaucrat proves a better politician for the people!



That year, Kashmir witnessed street protests that left around 120 civilians dead. Interestingly, that time, it was the government headed by Omar Abdullah, the same man, who looks at Faesal’s resignation as a “loss” for bureaucracy and “gain” for politics.


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