Amid reports that bureaucrat-turned politician Shah Faesal will be appointed as an advisor to Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, sources close to him describe such reports as “baseless rumours”. “In Kashmir at times rumours have some truth in it. But this one has none. It is baseless,” says one of his close friends.
Since January last year, reports about Faesal being taken back in the services have been emerging regularly, without culminating in anything. Previously there were reports that he will be appointed as the director of Sher-i Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Srinagar. Then there were reports he will be posted as an advisor to the LG of Ladakh. But nothing materialised.
The fresh reports came up after the J&K government on Wednesday relieved Baseer Ahmad Khan from the post of advisor to L-G Sinha. “Pursuant to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India communication, Baseer Ahmad Khan has been relieved from the post of advisor to the Lieutenant Governor, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect,” reads an order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) on Wednesday evening.
After Khan’s exit rumours sprang up about Shah Faesal.
Shah Faesal topped IAS in 2010. In 2018, Faesal got enrolled in the Mid-Career MPA program at Harvard Kennedy School as a Fulbright Scholar. Later on his return to J&K, he quit civil services and launched a political party, Jammu Kashmir People’s Movement in January 2019. The government didn’t accept his resignation though. Former governor Satya Pal Malik had appealed to return to the services.
On August 5, 2019, the government, amid a running siege of J&K, extensive military build-up, communication blockade and arrest of thousands of people including three former chief ministers--revoked Article 370, Article 35A, and trifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories, Jammu, and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Faesal expressed his resentment against the move. He was arrested in August 2019 after his interview with the BBC in which he said, “The abrogation 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.”
After his release, Faesal last year in August stepped down from the chairmanship of his party, JKPM, saying he is not in a position to continue with political activities and wants to be freed from the responsibilities of the organisation. Since then, he has been trying to get back into the services.
Since January this year, Faesal broke his long silence and is seen praising the government. Posting on microblogging site Twitter about the Covid vaccination programme, Faesal wrote, “This is more than just a vaccination program. It’s good governance + human capital formation + nation building + India assuming global leadership as a Jagat Guru.”
Praising the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ in January, Faesal had said, “It is like 1.3 billion people coming together as a family on a Sunday morning and each one being heard and spoken to, each one feeling counted. My take away from this programme: Communication can build solidarities and make a nation ‘sound’ like a family.”
Since, what Union Minister Jitendra Singh said “Shah Faesal’s change of heart” the reports about his posting appear at regular intervals in J&K only to turn rumours later.