NEW DELHI—IAS Officer Kannan Gopinathan resigned from government service on August 21 citing denial of fundamental rights to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and his own inability to speak freely about it, The Hindu reported.
“We got into the service thinking that we can provide voice to people, but then we ended up with our own voice being taken away from us. In a democracy, let’s say Hong Kong or any other democracy, if the Government takes a decision, that is their right. But the response to that decision is the people’s right. Here, we have taken a decision and then we have detained everybody. They are not even allowed to respond to that decision. That is dangerous,” the 33-year-old bureaucrat told the newspaper on Saturday
In a separate interview to ieMalayalam.com the same day, the 2012 batch IAS Officer from Kerala said, “I want my freedom of expression back. I want to live like me, even if its for a day.”
Government servants are prohibited by service rules to criticise government policies publicly.
Further, in the same interview, he explained at some length why resigning was an important moral step for him. “If you ask me what you were doing, when one of the world’s largest democracies announced a ban on the entire state, and even violated the fundamental rights of the people, I should at least be able to reply that I resigned my job,” he said.
In an other interview with NDTV, he clarified that, ”...Article 370 or its abrogation is not the issue, but denying citizens their right to respond to it, is the main issue. They could welcome the move or protest it, that’s their right.”
The secretary of Power, Urban Development and Town and Country Planning departments of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli administration was also disturbed by a “lack of response” from India’s civil society to the detention of IAS officer-turned activist from Kashmir Shah Faesal. “Even when a former IAS officer was detained from the airport, there was a complete lack of response from civil society. It seems like most in this country are okay with this,” he rued.
In the interview with ieMalayalam.com, Kannan, who has been a civil servant for seven years, conceded that, “I don’t think my resignation will make any impact. But when the country is going through a turbulent time, when someone asks me what did I do, I don’t want to say, ‘I took leave and went on to higher education in the US.’ It’s better to quit the job.”
In 2018, the IAS officer grabbed headlines when he was spotted doing relief work during the Kerala floods. The work was voluntary and thus, done in a private capacity. The information apparently reached the press when one of his colleagues told the media about it.