Shah Faesal shot to fame in 2009, when he became the first person from Jammu and Kashmir to top the Indian civil service examination. Since then, even though he has been celebrated by mainstream political parties and has been projected as a poster boy and a role model for the Kashmiri youth, Faesal’s outspokenness on social media and criticism of the government has led to several run-ins with the Centre.
After joining the IAS, Faesal was appointed the director of school education in the Kashmir Valley. A doctor by profession, he also held the post of managing director of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation before he left for Harvard University in the United States to pursue further studies.
The 35-year-old recently returned to India from a stint as a Fulbright fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and on Wednesday announced his resignation from the civil services to answer his political calling. “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,” Faesal tweeted.
Patriarchy+Population+Illiteracy+Alcohol+Porn+Technology+Anarchy = Rapistan!
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) April 22, 2018
Last year, Faesal, who comes from the Lolab valley in Kupwara, courted trouble 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”. “Patriarchy+Population+Illiteracy+Alcohol+Porn+Technology+Anarchy = Rapistan!” Faesal tweeted on April 22.
A departmental inquiry was soon ordered against Faesal for the tweet following a request from the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). A government servant is not permitted to do so as per the DoPT rules.
However, Faesal refused to withdraw his comment and instead suggested that the inquiry was a classic case of “bureaucratic over-enthusiasm”.
Calling the government order a “love letter” from his boss, Faesal shared a copy of it online and tweeted that 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.”
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
“Rape is not part of government policy that criticism of rape would mean criticism of government policy and invite action,” Faesal told the Indian Express later on the issue.
However, this is not the only case where Faesal has been at odds with the government. In March 2017, he made sarcastic remarks on government jobs and also on the political situation in the Valley. He called a government job “slavery of mind, eyes, tongue, hands and feet.”
In 2017, when the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a gag order against the use of social media by its employees, Faesal had sarcastically remarked he would now use code language to update his Facebook account.
“Heard that government employees will be subjected to foot whipping for operating Facebook (account). From now on I will use coded language to update,” he wrote on Facebook.