The resignation of two IAS officers in a few days last week has a message: that governance by the NDA 2.0 government isn’t universally popular. A few officials quitting in protest over the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K may at best cause a ripple at the Centre or in state governments, but they are representative of a divergence of opinion on the sensitive subject of the Kashmir Valley, and the abrupt change in approach after 72 years. The fact that two officers from South India could quit their jobs in protest over Kashmir indicates how deep feelings run over the key issue of liberties being taken with the Constitution of India in a patently political decision. The emphasis is on national thinking, even though the Kashmir Valley is thousands of kilometers away from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The use of words like “fascism” and comparisons to Russia and Indonesia while putting forward a resignation may have stemmed from a sense of disillusionment that the officers may be feeling over being in government service. The two South Indian officers were not the first to abandon their jobs. An IAS officer from Kashmir, Shah Faesal, had quit, but with the aim of entering politics while desiring to distance himself from a government that seemed to be immune to the “unabated” killings in Kashmir and the “marginalisation of a minority community”. In a sense, the sacrifice of the two southern officers seems to be on a higher plane. While the criticism they faced from ruling party acolytes shows the deep divide in political perceptions, they have bravely upheld the right of people to respond in a democracy.