Srinagar: More than a year after former bureaucrat Shah Faesal joined politics, the IAS topper from 2010 ended his political stint here on Monday. He stepped down from the post of President of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM), a party he formed in March last year.
In a statement, the JKPM spokesperson said the party has appointed current party Vice-President Feroze Peerzada as its interim President.
“Dr. Shah Faesal had informed State Executive Members that he is not in a position to continue with political activities and wants to be freed from the responsibilities of the organisation,” the party spokesperson said.
Party members said they have accepted Faesal’s request after he submitted his request to the party’s executive committee.
Other than Faesal, party chairman Javed Mustafa Mir, a former minister during the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition rule, has also submitted his resignation from the party. Both Faesal and Mir were among hundreds of politicians and political activists who were detained in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Faesal has been the only person to top the IAS examinations from Jammu and Kashmir so far. In 2018, he was on a year-long sabbatical to pursue a course at Harvard University in the US. In January last year, he resigned from his government job and joined social activist Shehla Rashid with the slogan of “Hawa Badlegi” (The winds shall change) to form their own outfit. Faesal’s resignation, however, was not immediately accepted.
His political activism was cut short within six months of his political career as the government moved to revoke the region’s special status on August 5, 2019, a move he vehemently opposed before his detention. He was detained on August 14 at Delhi airport while he was on his way abroad.
Hailing from North-Kashmir’s Lolab valley in Kupwara, the 37-year-old quit the medical profession before pursuing civil services. He was also one of the leading RTI activists in the valley. After he topped IAS in 2010 – a year of turmoil in Kashmir in which over 120 civilians were killed during protests – Faesal was projected as a youth icon, an image he retains even today, especially among civil services aspirants.
Since his detention in August last year, Faesal was first lodged in the SKICC (Kashmir International Conference Centre) complex in Srinagar. He was then shifted to the MLA hostel where he was kept till June – when the case on him under the PSA was revoked – along with a dozen other political detainees.
Before his arrest, Faesal openly censured the government’s abrogation move and even wrote a scathing post on his Twitter profile. “Kashmir will need a long, sustained, non-violent political mass movement for restoration of the political rights. Abolition of Article 370 has finished the mainstream. Constitutionalists are gone. So you can either be a stooge or a separatist now. No shades of grey,” Faesal had tweeted.
This “separatist or stooge” comment by Faesal, whose father was killed by militants in 2002, was considered by many as one of the most defining remarks by any valley-based politician in the post-August 5 situation in Kashmir.