As a Free Citizen, I Have a Right to Question Govt: Ex-IAS Officer

“Democracy must be strong enough to take dissent,” says Kannan Gopinathan, who resigned over govt’s handling of J&K.

2 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cameraperson: Sumit Badola

“The government has every right to take decisions, but the government need not be right always,” Kannan Gopinathan, a 2012 batch IAS officer who resigned from service citing restrictions on fundamental rights in Jammu and Kashmir told The Quint.

Gopinathan, who was Secretary, Power Department, of the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, submitted his resignation on 23 August.

His resignation, however, made no mention of the Kashmir issue.

In a candid interview with The Quint, Gopinathan shared his thoughts on his resignation, freedom of expression in Jammu and Kashmir, the showcause notice served to him, creating counter-narratives, and whether he plans to go down the path taken by Shah Faesal, who topped the civil service examinations but opted out and joined active politics instead.

Gopinathan, who hails from Kottayam District of Kerala, speaking on the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, said, “There is a need to distinguish between government's right to take a decision and people's right to react to it”.

“Indian democracy should be strong enough to take in dissent.”
Kannan Gopinathan, ex-IAS Officer

Days after resigning, Gopinathan, who claimed he quit as he wanted to express his views against the "denial of freedom of expression" in Kashmir, on Sunday said people of the Valley have to be convinced on Article 370, but it cannot be done by not allowing them to express their views.

“There can be reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights but there cannot be prolonged restrictions,” he told The Quint.

The 32-year-old officer first attracted attention when he hid his identity to join volunteers in relief work during the 2018 Kerala floods.

On the question of whether he expected backlash from the government for his vocal stance on sensitive issues, he added, “I am dissenting in a space provided in a democracy.”

“If I was afraid, would I have taken the pretext of Kashmir to resign?”

The 32-year-old had been issued a showcause notice in July by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The notice cited five reasons, one of which was Gopinathan not sending applications for a PM's award. Speaking to The Quint, Gopinathan denied that his resignation has anything to do with the notice issued to him.

“I submitted my resignation only on 23 August whereas the showcause notice was issued in July and I submitted my reply to it as well.”

When asked whether he plans to join politics in the future, Gopinathan concluded by saying that he would continue to work with the people and also look to earn a living at the same time.

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