Srinagar: IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal Sunday removed from his Twitter bio his designation as the president of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM), a party he had founded after leaving the civil services in 2019.
Although his party leaders maintain that the change in Faesal’s bio should not be seen as him quitting politics, the development has raised speculation that the IAS topper of his batch might call it a day. A senior government official said Faesal might pursue education abroad but the JKPM rejected the claim.
While Faesal’s Twitter bio earlier mentioned his role as the JKPM president, it has now been updated to just: “Edward S Fellow @HKS Harvard University. Medico. Fulbright. Centrist.”
ThePrint tried to contact Faesal but he remained unavailable. Sources close to the 37-year-old politician said given he still remains under house detention, and it wouldn’t be prudent for him to speak.
“He has not left the party or politics. He is under house arrest,” a senior JKPM member told ThePrint. “If he has changed his twitter bio or removed his official designation it might mean that he wants to continue in some other capacity.”
There has been speculation about Faesal quitting politics for some time and even rejoining the civil service. But the party dismissed the rumours.
“As far as the JKPM is concerned, Faesal as of today is the president of the party,” said the leader quoted above.
The IAS officer-turned-politician
The change in Twitter bio is the first activity on Faesal’s official Twitter handle since 13 August 2019, when he was first detained.
Prior to his detention, Faesal, who had topped the 2009 UPSC exam, had taken to Twitter to express his displeasure against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status.
“Kashmir will need a long, sustained, non-violent political mass movement for restoration of 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.
Faesal was detained by immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi last year in August and handed over to Delhi Police, which put him on a flight back to Srinagar. Officials said Faesal was on his way to Istanbul.
In Srinagar, Faesal was taken to the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) where he was kept for nearly four months along with several other politicians who were detained ahead of the Modi government’s 5 August decision to scrap J&K’s special status. Faesal was then shifted to the MLA hostel.
Faesal spent another four months there before he was finally booked under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). The administration, in his PSA dossier, alleged that Faesal advanced the separatist ideology and challenged the decision of the central government to scrap the special status of J&K .
In the first week of June, Faesal’s PSA order was revoked but sources close to him maintain that he has been instructed by J&K government officials not to leave his residence.
Faesal had last year formed the J&K Peoples Movement party, which later entered into an alliance with the Awami Ittehad Party headed by Sheikh Abdul Rashid aka Engineer Rashid.
Rashid is currently being held in New Delhi’s Tihar jail on charges of financing militancy in Kashmir. Faesal’s resignation from the IAS has, however, not been accepted so far, a senior government official told ThePrint.
Faesal had announced his decision to resign in a Facebook post. He had written that he was quitting to protest against “unabated killings” in Kashmir and the “marginalisation of Indian Muslims”.