Shah Faesal

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Shah Faesal
Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir People's Movement
In office
21 March 2019[1] – 9 August 2020
Preceded byposition established
Succeeded byFeeroze Peerzada (interim)
Managing Director (J&K State Power Development Corporation)
In office
18 October 2016 – 9 January 2019
Preceded byKifayat Rizvi[2]
Succeeded byHirdesh Kumar[3]
Director School Education (Kashmir)
In office
22 August 2015 – 18 October 2016
Preceded byShowkat Ahmad Beigh
Succeeded byAjaz Ahmad Bhat
Deputy Commissioner (Bandipora)
In office
8 February 2014 – 22 August 2015
Preceded byMohammad Yousuf Zargar
Succeeded bySajad Hussain Ganai
Assistant Commissioner, Revenue (Pulwama)
In office
16 August 2012 – 8 February 2014
Preceded byNasir Ahmad Lone
Succeeded bySyed Sajad Qadiri[4]
Personal details
Born (1983-05-17) 17 May 1983 (age 37)
Sogam Lolab, Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir[5]
Political partyJammu and Kashmir People's Movement, Peoples United Front
Spouse(s)Iram Rashid
ParentsGhulam Rasool Shah
Mubeena Shah
ResidenceJammu and Kashmir
Alma mater
ProfessionPolitician, social activist, doctor, bureaucrat

Shah Faesal (born 17 May 1983) is a former Indian politician and bureaucrat from Jammu and Kashmir. In 2009, he became the first Kashmiri to place first in the Indian Civil Services Examination.[6][7][8] He resigned from the Indian bureaucracy in protest on 9 January 2019, citing "unabated killings" in Kashmir among other things.[9][10]

On 4 February 2019, Shah Faesal began his political life by giving a public speech in his hometown of Kupwara.[11][12] Shortly after on 16 March 2019 he announced that he would be launching his own political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement (JKPM).[13] He left politics on 10 August 2020 and quit the JKPM.[1]. Although he got both mixed positive and negative comments on his decision.

Early life and education[edit]

Shah Faesal was born in the Sogam area of Lolab Valley, located in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. His father, Ghulam Rasool Shah, was a teacher who was killed by militants in 2002.[14][15][16] Shah Faesal was 19 at the time.[6] Not only was his father a teacher, but his mother, Mubeena Shah, as well as grandfather were teachers.[8]

He is a 2008 batch graduate of the Jhelum Valley Medical College.[17] He holds an MBBS degree from Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar as well as has a master's degree in Urdu.[18][19] He finished MBBS at 26 and left IAS at 35. In 2018, he was a recipient of the Fulbright-Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School.[20]

Bureaucrat Career[edit]

Before cracking Civil Service exam, Faesal was the gold medalist at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar, where he studied medicine.[21] In 2009, he became the first Kashmiri to get first place in the UPSC civil services exam, which he also cleared on his first attempt. He was also the first candidate from Kashmir in several years to be selected to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) through open merit.[6] He was the fourth Muslim (after Independence) to top the civil service exam.[22]

On 16 August 2012, Faisal was appointed as the assistant commissioner, revenue, of Pulwama district.[23] he was transferred to the deputy commissioner of Bandipora district on 8 February 2014.[24] He was transferred to the position of Director School Education, Kashmir, on 22 August 2015, replacing Showkat Ahmad Beigh. Sajad Hussain Ganai replaced him as deputy commissioner of Bandipora.[25] Faesal on 26 March 2016 was also made the vice-chairman of J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority.[26]

During his stint as director of school education, he faced a months-long shutdown of schools during the 2016 Kashmir unrest, causing him to sarcastically post on Facebook that he needed a job, which invited varied comments.[27] Ajaz Ahmad Bhat took over the charge from him on 18 October 2016, after he had been transferred to J&K State Power Development Corporation and made its managing director.[28] He was transferred from his post to that of an administrative secretary to the state tourism department in May 2018, however was later asked to remain on his current post.[29]

Faesal also received the Fulbright-Nehru Masters's Fellowship in May 2018 to study at the Harvard Kennedy School.[30] He resigned from the IAS on 9 January 2019 citing "unabated killings" in Kashmir among other things, announcing the resignation through a Facebook post.[9] He was also generally disillusioned with his role as a bureaucrat, which included jailing people and imposing curfews.[8]

Political Career[edit]

On 4 February 2019, Shah Faesal began his political life by giving a public speech in his hometown of Kupwara.[11][12] During this speech he compared his experience in the IAS with feeling like having "spent the last 10 years in a jail."[31] On 25 February 2019, he announced during a live debate on NDTV that he is launching his own political party and has already applied to the Election Commission regarding this.[32] On 16 March 2019 he announced through Facebook that he would be launching his own political party on 17 March, the Jammu & Kashmir Peoples' Movement (JKPM), at a football ground in Rajbagh area, Srinagar.[33]

Faesal formed the JKPM on 21 March and stated it would provide a political platform to the youth as well as veteran politicians with a clean image.[1] He later announced that it will not contest the 2019 Indian general election to focus more on outreach, and encouraged people to vote for the right politicans. He also said the party would focus on safeguarding Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution of India.[34] On 18 June, he and Engineer Rashid announced that their parties, JKPM and Awami Ittehad Party, will be entering into a political alliance called Peoples United Front. The main points of its agenda were the resolution of the Kashmir dispute based on the wishes of Kashmiris, peaceful relations between India and Pakistan, protecting the state's special status, return of Kashmiri Pandits and release of all politicians from detention.[35]

Faesal was one of the political leaders detained after the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. As he tried to take a flight to Turkey on 14 August 2019, he was stopped and later taken into preventive detention.[36] He was first kept at the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar and then shifted to the MLA hostel where he spent the next six months.[37]

Faesal later in August filed a habeas corpus plea before the Delhi High Court, stating that he was going to the United States to complete his studies, but had been illegally detailed. The government of the union territory stated that he had no student visa, and upon being brought to Srinagar Airport, provoked the people to protest against India. It additionally claimed that he had refused to guarantee that he won't create any such situation again if released.[38] The plea was withdrawn by his wife after she met him in September 2019.[39]

He was booked under the Public Safety Act in February 2020, being accused of subtly advocating separatism.[36] The detention under PSA was extended by three months on 13 May.[40] On 3 June, PSA against Faesal was revoked[41] and he was released after a detention of 10 months.[42] He was however put under house arrest on the very next day.[36]

Faesal has also written for the Greater Kashmir newspaper and was a part of Jammu & Kashmir's Right to Information movement along with Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat.[43]

JKPM announced on 10 August 2020 that Faisal had told them he couldn't remain in politics any longer and asked to be relieved from being a member of the party, which they acceded to. Vice-president Feroze Peerzada was chosen as his interim replacement until a new president was elected.[1]


Shah Faesal wrote bold social media posts even as a bureaucrat.[44] In July 2018, when he was a civil servant, he had posted a tweet, writing:

"Population +patriarchy +illiteracy +alcohol +porn +technology +anarchy = rapistan".[45]

People had said his tweet was in relation to India, but he had later clarified it was not.[46] However disciplinary action was taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government as well as the central government's Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the inquiry was still going on before his resignation.[9][10]

During the 2016 Kashmir unrest, Shah Faesal had urged the national media not to use his pictures for drawing a comparison with Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri militant and commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. During this episode he had threatened to resign through a Facebook post if such primetime propaganda did not stop.[47][48] In 2019, Hizbul Mujahideen circulated a poster warning people about Shah Faesal.[49]

In February 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs withdrew the security cover of 155 people in Jammu and Kashmir, and this included Shah Faesal, who had until then had been provided security as a bureaucrat.[50][51]

On August 14, 2019 he was detained while flying out of IGI Airport to Turkey and sent back to Kashmir [52]


Apart from the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, Shah Faesal has also named Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as a role model.[53][54] Mani Shankar Aiyar, another Indian bureaucrat turned politician who went on to become a Union Minister, wrote an article on Shah Faesal called "Kashmir's Arvind Kejriwal".[8]

On 3 March 2019, Shah Faesal recommended the Nobel Peace Prize for Imran Khan for "saving South Asia from a nuclear catastrophe."[55]

Shah Faesal, during a talk in New Delhi in February 2019 at the India International Center, said that Kashmir is like a "High Altitude Graveyard".[56] He has suggested ways forward including "humanising the discourse" and advising people not to see the Kashmir issue as a mere "law and order problem".[57]

Personal Life[edit]

He is married to Iram Rashid, an officer of KAS, and has a son named Jami Faesal.[58]


  1. ^ a b c d "16 Months On, J&K Bureaucrat-Turned-Politician Shah Faesal Quits Politics". NDTV. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Cabinet orders reshuffle of bureaucrats". The Tribune. 16 October 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
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  18. ^ "Supremo". Supremo. 17 May 1983. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
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  32. ^ "Ex-IAS Officer Shah Faesal Announces He's Forming a New Party". The Quint. 26 February 2019. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
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  43. ^ Bhat, Saima (4 March 2020). "Curious Case of Shah Faesal". Kashmir Life. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
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  51. ^ "Shah Faesal's security clearance withdrawn by J&K administration". Daily News and Analysis (DNA). PTI. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
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  53. ^ "I'm deeply inspired by Imran Khan: Shah Faesal". The Times of India. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  54. ^ "Imran Khan, Kejriwal inspired me to join politics, says Shah Faesal". India Today. Press Trust of India. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
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  56. ^ "Kashmir is More Like High Altitude Graveyard, Says Shah Faesal After Pulwama Terror Strike Claims 40". News18. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  57. ^ Singh, Ravi S (15 February 2019). "Trust deficit among Kashmiri youth towards Indian state: Shah Faesal". The Tribune. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  58. ^ "Petition in HC seeks release of Shah Faesal". The Hindu. 23 February 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2020.


External links[edit]