Jackboot on J&K: IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan quits

Thiruvananthapuram: Kannan Gopinathan quit the IAS last Wednesday, saying he could not remain a mute witness “when one of the world’s largest democracies announced a ban on the entire state (Jammu and Kashmir), and even violated the fundamental rights of the people...but I would not question the Centre’s legitimate right to take decisions”.

The official reasoned that government cannot take away anyone’s right to dissent, protest and speak their mind. “While in service, I was bound by rules against speaking my mind, especially when criticising government. Now that I have resigned, which itself is a statement, I have regai-ned my freedom of expression. I want to live like me, even if it is for a day,” Mr Gopinathan told DC.

He joined civil service with the hope he could be the voice of the voiceless and the silenced. “But here, I lost my own voice,” he said. Was there was no other option than resignation? The question, Gopina-than said, was not why he resigned, “but how I cannot”. His resignation might not make an impact, but when the country is at its worst since the Emergency, he was not one to take leave and fly to the US for higher education.

A 2012-batch IAS officer from Kerala, he put in his papers as the head of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli administration. He is a qu-alified electrical engineer from the BITS, Mesra, and worked as a design engineer before joining the IAS.

Gopinathan had not thought about the future because “doing what I wan-ted now was more important”. He might study further or take a job fitting his qualification. “Earning my bread will not be difficult,” he said.

But he would continue to work in sync with humanitarian concerns. Gopinathan used to take classes for slum children while working with a private company in Noida. He sat in protest on the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, and protested against scams before joining service. “These are part of me, wherever I am,” he said.

“If you ask me what you had done when this (turbulence in J & K) was happening, I should at least be able to reply that I resigned my job,” he said.

A batchmate of his told this newspaper, “Kannan Gopinathan is a very warm, friendly person. He was quite popular among batchmates at the Civil Services Academy in Mussoorie. He is very bright, talented, sincere and hardworking. Yes, he is kind and humanitarian. Kannan’s resignation has come as a surprise to us. Don’t think anyone else would contemplate doing anything similar”

Mr Gopinathan rued none in the bureaucracy being able to protest when former civil servant Shah Faesal was arrested. Faesal, the 2010 topper, quit his job in January to protest against the “marginalisation and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva”.   

“I once thought that being in civil services meant an opportunity to expand the rights and freedoms of fellow citizens!” Kannan tweeted just days ago.

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