The centre has ordered action against Shah Faesal, the outspoken bureaucrat from Jammu and Kashmir, for his tweets that he has described as a “sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in south Asia”. The IAS official went public on Tuesday with the show cause notice and seemed to question the government’s gag order for bureaucrats as well.
“The irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience,” he said in a tweet and a Facebook post.
Mr Faesal, 35 is the only IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir to have ever topped the civil services exam. The 2011 batch officer, who has been a role model for the youth and inspired many others to join the civil services, is currently an Edward S Mason Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School on study leave.
Love letter from my boss for my sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in South Asia.
The Irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience.
I’m sharing this to underscore the need for a rule change. pic.twitter.com/ssT8HIKhIK
– Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) July 10, 2018
The central government had banned officials from criticising the government on social media in 2016. Under these rules, a statement of fact or an opinion which “has the effect of an adverse criticism” of any current or recent policy or action is treated as criticism.
Back in April when the IAS officer had put out the tweet, Mr Faesal had drawn a sharp reaction from some people who saw the reference to “Rapistan” as a reference to India and a contrast to Pakistan.
Patriarchy+Population+Illiteracy+Alcohol+Porn+Technology+Anarchy = Rapistan!
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) April 22, 2018
One person asked him to quit his job before peddling, what he described as “an anti-India rant”.
Mr Faesal shot back. “What makes you think it’s about India? And u forgot to tag PMO. I think,” he tweeted.
The tweet and the reaction had come against the backdrop of the national outrage over the Kathua gang-rape that was a huge political hot-button issue and had, days earlier, cost two Jammu and Kashmir ministers their post.
Actor Gul Panag responded to news of the government’s action against Shah Faesal and the April tweet.
Shah Faesal isn’t the first bureaucrat to face disciplinary action.
In 2016, a senior Madhya Pradesh bureaucrat Ajay Singh Gangwar was handed his transfer order after he praised former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on Facebook. Mr Gangwar, then a collector of Barwani district 350 km from state capital Bhopal, had later deleted his post that appeared to take a jab at the BJP as well.
Earlier this year, Bareilly district magistrate Raghvendra Vikkram Singh was also charged with violating conduct rules after putting up a Facebook post that appeared to blame right-wing Hindu groups for provoking communal clashes.