When IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal announced his decision to quit politics on Monday, 11 August, many on social media pointed out how he had deleted most of his old tweets.
The Twitter account of Faesal, who has stepped down from the position of president of Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement (JKPM), now lists just two tweets, which are also not visible. His Twitter bio, which earlier mentioned him as the president of JKPM, now says, "Edward S Fellow @ HKS Harvard University. Medico. Fulbright. Centrist”.
As a result, many on social media have taken to posting screenshots of his now-deleted tweets, especially those in which he slammed the government over its moves on Article 370 and 35A.
‘No Shades of Grey’
In one of his tweets, posted on 13 August last year – just days after the Centre announced revocation of J&K's special status under Article 370, and its bifurcation into two Union territories – Faesal said, "Kashmir will need a long, sustained, non-violent political mass movement for restoration of the 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."
Just two days before that, Faesal in another hard-hitting tweet, had said, "There is no Eid. Kashmiris across the world are mourning the illegal annexation of their land. There shall be no Eid till everything that has been stolen and snatched since 1947 is returned. No Eid till the last bit of insult is avenged and undone." The tweet reportedly created quite a bit of a stir at the time, and he was even accused of sedition.
Meanwhile, current reports have indicated that with his quitting politics, Faesal might join back the service, with the door being open for him to return to his old job. According to sources cited by news agency IANS, the government has recently sent him "feelers that they are not averse to him joining back the civil service". His deletion of tweets, including those which were political, is also significant to note in this context.
‘Would Compare Article 35A to a Marriage-Deed’
Even before the Centre's J&K controversial moves of 5 August, Faisal had posted tweets that created quite a flutter. In a tweet on 5 August 2018, Faesal indicated that repealing Article 35A would finish its relationship with India. "I would compare Article 35A to a marriage deed/nikahnama. You repeal it and the relationship is over. Nothing will remain to be discussed afterwards," he had posted. Notably, this was months before he had resigned from the service in January 2019.
According to news agency PTI, he had gone on to point out that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India took place before the Constitution had come into force.
"Yes and those who say accession still stands forget that accession was just like a roka, because the Constitution had not come into force that time. Can roka still bind two people together even after the marriage document is annulled?" he was quoted as writing.
"Let's not confuse the issue. Sovereignty and integrity of India can't be challenged. Not at all. But the Constitution has kept some special provisions for J&K state. It's a unique arrangement. It isn't a threat to India's integrity at all," he went on to say.
In another tweet on 1 April 2019 taking a dig at then BJP President Amit Shah, Faesal had tweeted saying, "Amit Shah: BJP will abrogate Article 35A before 2020. Faesal Shah: JKPM will restore PMJK post by 2020."
On this post, in a piece decoding Faesal’s nascent role in the political landscape of J&K, journalist Gowhar Geelani had written, "Clearly, Faesal was talking about the post of prime minister in Jammu and Kashmir, a constitutional position that was renamed as “chief minister” in the 1960s. But then, it was 1 April. And all of us know about the tradition of cracking practical jokes and spreading hoaxes on that day."
Faesal, who had launched the JKPM in March 2019 and staunchly criticised the Centre's Article 370 move, was among the scores of political leaders from the erstwhile state who had been detained after 5 August last year. He had been charged under the stringent People's Safety Act in February this year. But in early June, the administration revoked his PSA.
With his resignation on Monday, senior leader Feroz Peerzada has been appointed as the interim president of JKPM till formal elections can be held.
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