Modi’s big move to build confidence among Kashmiri Muslims –posting Shah Faesal in top security body
Cynicism and scepticism in a section of Kashmir’s Muslim population has been an incontrovertible reality since ages. It has not come out of the blue. Separatists and militants are tasked to promote and sustain alienation with whatever possible. That is understandable, though deplorable.
But much more than separatists, paradoxically it is the mainstream politicians and bureaucrats who have demonised India and created an impression that New Delhi didn’t trust the Kashmiri Muslims.
As long as the politicians and bureaucrats, including IAS and IPS officers, wield power and retain prized positions in the establishment, they enjoy life and remain silent. No sooner do they lose power and privileges; they start an insidious rant to create divisions on regional and religious lines. Not all but many of them project India as a discredited democracy and sow the seeds of hate and mistrust in the impressionable minds.
When someone like Syed Muzaffar Aga, Mir Nasrullah, Noor Mohammad, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool or Iqbal Khanday is appointed as the Chief Secretary, valley’s politicians, bureaucrats, officers and intellectuals remain silent. They start whisper campaigns when some IAS or IPS officer from outside is appointed as Chief Secretary or Director General of Police like all other States and Union Territories (UTs).
Conspiracy theories are galore in the atmosphere of mistrust and scepticism. A new dimension was added to it by the Valley’s pseudo-intellectual brigade when Shah Faesal, the resident of a far-flung area of Kupwara, became the first IAS topper from Jammu and Kashmir in 2010. Well-educated people wrote in the social media that New Delhi had fudged the UPSC selection so as to create a youth icon who would wean away the younger generation from separatism.
Most of the politicians and intellectuals do not tell the Kashmiri youths how hundreds from the valley had achieved excellence and distinction in different fields across the country. They don’t tell them that a Kashmiri Muslim officer from Anantnag had risen to a top position in the Indian Air Force and played a key role in procurement of the Rafale jets from France.
The doors of the Intelligence Bureau were indeed closed for the Kashmiri Muslims for decades of the Congress regime but these have been opened after 2014 and not less than 100 Kashmiri Muslim officials are now working in the country’s premier intelligence agency.
There were more reasons to troll, doubt and discredit Faesal. He was the son of a government schoolteacher who had been shot dead by terrorists. His neighbours in Sogam, Lolab, claim that he was attacked minutes after he objected to a foreign terrorist’s forced, inappropriate handshake with a young woman.
Faesal’s father was killed when he was writing his 10th standard exams at a school in Srinagar. The stoic mother of the two sons, herself a government school teacher, supported them and made them both doctors. Faesal created history of sorts when he topped the Civil Services examination. Out of sheer hard work and copious talent, he got the prestigious Edward Mason fellowship at Harvard University in 2018.
With a massive following on Twitter and Facebook, Faesal emerged as an icon for the youths of Jammu and Kashmir. Many of them were inspired and participated in the UPSC exams after 2010. Quite a number of them were selected in IAS, IPS and allied Central services. His honesty and integrity were recognised across the board while he handled different positions in J&K’s administration and bureaucracy for eight years.
Faesal’s forgettable political escapades lasted not more than 8 months in 2018. Jumping on the bandwagon, he resigned from the IAS and launched his own party, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM). His idealism was focused on replacing the traditional exploitative system by inducting young, energetic and dynamic leaders in which he failed as he got himself embroiled in a country-wide left-liberal commune pitted against the BJP. By the time he realised his mistakes, he landed in jail when J&K’s special status was withdrawn in August 2019.
Even after cosying up with his jail inmates—senior leaders of National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and other parties—for 10 minutes, he announced his resignation from the party as well as politics after his release. Unfazed by huge trolling in social media, which called him a “traitor and stooge”, Faesal withdrew his resignation which had not been accepted. Burning his boats with the Kashmiri politicians, Faesal began publicly praising and promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and Home Minister Amit Shah’s initiatives and flagship programmes.
Faesal’s reinstatement, obviously a decision taken at the highest level, came at a time when Prime Minister Modi told the people of Kashmir at his rally in Samba, Jammu, that it was the time for them to come out of the shadows of the past. He assured the valley’s youths that they would not suffer the trouble their parents and grandparents did over decades. Nobody in Kashmir is today as committed and connected with the youths as Faesal. He will have to deliver and retain the trust that the country’s top most leadership has reposed in him.
Sources in bureaucracy maintain that his posting in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), an affiliate of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has been lately cleared by the Department of Personnel and Training and the Union Home Ministry. If he gets this particular posting, he will be not only the first Kashmiri Muslim to enter the country’s top security establishment but also the first IAS officer from J&K to be posted there.
With the advantage of his profile and international connections, Faesal could emerge as the mascot to promote the Government of India’s policies and programmes, including its stand against terrorism, in the country and abroad.