By: Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
New Delhi: The 2010 IAS topper, Dr Shah Faesal, will be the first civil service officer from Jammu and Kashmir to join the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) as the orders of his appointment are expected any time during the current month. Following his reinstatement and the Union Territory governments no objection to his Central deputation, the 39-year-old Kashmiri Muslim officer has been cleared for his crucial posting in the South Block.
According to highly placed authoritative sources, days before his joining back in Jammu, Faesal met the Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi. It was not clear what transpired between the two in the one-on-one meeting for 45 minutes but immediately thereafter the bureaucracy began clearing decks for Faesal’s posting in the , which is a part of the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Since there’s normally no room for IAS officers in the NSCS, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) would transfer one vacancy to accommodate Shah Faesal. This decision has been taken at the highest level. DoPT in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which administers the IAS and IPS cadre in Union Territories, would be issuing necessary orders in the current month”, said a top-ranking source.
Faesal’s meeting with Shah is seen as a courtesy call to thank the Home Minister , who had accepted his application to withdraw the resignation and rejoin the service. The Home Minister is also understood to have put in a word for Faesal’s smooth return to Jammu and his transition from the UT to the Centre.
Following the Centre’s approval to his reinstatement, Faesal appeared at the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta’s office at Jammu late in the evening, ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit. After a brief meeting with Mehta, Faesal dropped his joining report with Principal Secretary General Administration Department Manoj Dwivedi. After the PM’s visit on 24 April, the J&K Government sent the NOC for Faesal’s Central deputation to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Immediately after returning from the United States of America in January 2019, the J&K cadre IAS officer announced his resignation from the service. In 2018, he was selected as an Edward Mason Fellow at John F Kennedy School at Harvard University. Leaving his fellowship halfway, he returned to Kashmir and began dabbling in politics.
Initially he intended to join the National Conference (NC) which, according to well-placed sources, had decided to field him as its candidate in the Lok Sabha elections from Baramulla-Kupwara. However, he changed his mind after some youths at his first Press conference raised objections to his perceived plan, claiming that the NC did not represent their aspirations.
Later in March 2019, Faesal floated his own political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM). Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti roped in different mainstream parties, including JKPM, to put up resistance to the Union Government’s plan of abrogation of Article 370. The conglomerate was named Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’ (PAGD).
While Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and other prominent PAGD leaders were detained before and after the J&K Reorganisation Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on 5 August 2019, Faesal was not arrested. He was, however, taken into custody and detained with other PAGD leaders at Srinagar’s SKICC when he was boarding a Delhi-Istanbul flight at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
After he was released in June 2020, Faesal announced his permanent resignation from his party as well as politics. A year later, he began praising the political and administrative initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Around that time, he is said to have expressed his willingness to join back his public service.
In his 8-year-long IAS, Faesal served as Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Director School Education Kashmir and Managing Director Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation. If his posting in the PMO materialises, he will become the first Kashmiri to be appointed in the NSCS.
With a huge following on social media, Faesal became a youth icon in Kashmir when he topped the IAS exams in 2010. He was the first from Jammu and Kashmir to achieve that distinction. Taking guidance and inspiration from Faesal, a resident of Kupwara’s Lolab valley whose father was gunned down by terrorists when he was writing his 10th standard exam, a large number of the J&K youths participated in the UPSC exams after 2010. Quite a number of them were selected for IAS, IPS and other allied services.
Faesal, who has the highest following in Jammu and Kashmir on Twitter after former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, has been unequivocally condemning terrorism after his dramatic shift from the valley’s pseudo-separatist politics . He has been promoting the Union Government’s flagship initiatives in health, education and environment.(IANS)