Shah Faesal, the first person from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir to top the civil services exam ever back in 2009 had quit the administration in January 2019 and had resorted to echo the sentiments of a borderline separatist. An objective analysis of the man’s comments would reveal that he was somewhere in the middle of pretentious ‘pro-India’ political leaders of Kashmir and the radical separatists found in the now broken ranks of the Hurriyat conference. By no measure was the man, upon entering politics, pro-India in his approach. Now, however, Faesal has grown a love for India, and wants to serve his country once again by becoming a part of the system he had quit last year.
Apparently, Shah Faesal seems to have indulged in much introspection during his detention, and has now evidently emerged as a reformed man. Earlier, Faesal had cleared his Twitter timeline and deleted all previous tweets, indicating at a fresh start. He then also stated how he didn’t not want to spend his life chasing an ‘illusion’. “There is a new reality in Kashmir and we have to come to terms with it. As a member of civil services, I have been a stakeholder in the future of this nation. I can’t imagine why some people would be anti-India. I can’t be seen as a traitor to a nation that has given me everything in life. I want to move on and start afresh. In whatsoever position that is,” he had told India Today.
In fact, after the abrogation of Article 370 last year, Faesal had issued a warning against the Indian state, which read, “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.” The man was subsequently caught fleeing the country for Istanbul, and was apprehended at Delhi International Airport. He was then put in for a ten-month long detention, which ended in June this year.
Such is the drastic change brought about in the man that he is now calling India a nation that has given him everything in life. Shah Faesal has come a long way in the past one year, from saying that there can be only stooges or separatists in Kashmir, to now crossing his fingers in the hope that the administration will let him enter public service one again. Shah Faesal wants to once again be a part of the same system, and help the people of Kashmir through it.
Speaking to PTI, Faesal made it clear that people “evolve with time”, and that his “innocuous act of dissent was being seen as treason”. He said, “It had done more harm than the benefit,” adding that his act had discouraged a lot of civil services aspirants and his colleagues felt betrayed by him.
On the question of him wishing to return to the administration Faesal said, “It is a prerogative of the government. I have always said that I want to work within the system. Let’s see what is in store for me. Fingers crossed.”
Shah Faesal serves as an example of how the abrogation of Article 370 brought in a new reality for Kashmir, where the valley was made as much a part of India as any other state or union territory – neither more, nor less. The political mafia which was run by two families was crushed, and soft separatism being shrouded as youth politics by the likes of Shah Faesal also found no takers in the valley. One is now either pro-India, or anti-India, and the latter, Faesal has realised, is not a category one should be in anymore.