Shah Faesal in this File Photo

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal, who quit politics last year following his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA), has come out in praise of the Narendra Modi government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

On Friday, Faesal shared a video of Prime Minister Modi interacting with Covid vaccination beneficiaries in Varanasi, and 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”.

His tweet praising the Centre’s vaccination drive came right after he wrote about reading a book on the “origins of religious orthodoxy and authoritarianism in Muslim lands”.

Faesal’s social media activity Friday, however, did not end there. He also had a Twitter exchange with BJP leader Kapil Mishra when the latter reacted to the IAS topper’s tweet.

Reacting to Faesal’s tweet, Mishra wrote “370 swaha”, to which the ex-IAS officer responded, “To kya karun mein marjawun (So should I die now?)”.

‘Comments shouldn’t come as a surprise’

After his release from detention, Faesal has avoided issuing any political statements. However, his tweet praising the Prime Minister has created a buzz in J&K as well as outside, with many social media users questioning him over his choice of tweets.

Faesal, however, told The Print that given the “entire world” was praising India’s vaccination programme, his comments should not come as a surprise.

“I have quit politics. My tweet was about the Prime Minister’s leadership to oversee vaccine roll out for 1.3 billion people and also using the vaccine as a symbol of India’s soft power abroad. The entire world is praising India’s COVID management. Why be surprised with my praise for the PM?,” Faesal told ThePrint through a text message.

From IAS to politics to house arrest

It is for the first time that Faesal, who was lodged in two different sub-jails in 2019-20, has directly praised PM Modi since Article 370 was scrapped in August 2019 and scores of politicians, including him, were detained during a massive statewide crackdown. Weeks after his release, Faesal quit politics. However, he is yet to decide his future course of action, according to sources close to him.

Faesal, who became the first Kashmiri to top the UPSC exams in 2009, had filed his resignation in January 2019. He went on to form J&K Peoples Movement and even allied his party with Awami Ittehad Party, headed by Sheikh Abdul Rashid, better known as ‘Engineer Rashid’. Rashid is currently in New Delhi’s Tihar jail on charges of terror financing in Kashmir.

Faesal had taken to Twitter to express his displeasure against the 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,” he had tweeted.

He was detained by immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in August last year and handed over to Delhi Police, which put him back on a flight to Srinagar.

In Srinagar, he 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 scrapping J&K’s special status.

The former IAS officer was then shifted to the MLA hostel where he spent another four months before he was finally booked under the PSA. The administration, in the 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 he remained under house arrest for several more weeks. He now maintains a low-profile lifestyle in Kashmir. (The Print)

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