Srinagar: Shehla Rashid, a student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University who had joined former IAS officer Shah Faesal’s Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM) in March, quit electoral politics Wednesday.
Rashid blamed the announcement of Block Development Council elections for “compelling” her to make this move. The Centre, she said, was trying to portray “normalcy” to the world by holding these polls and that she “cannot be party to the exercise of legitimising the brutal suppression of my people”.
IAS officer-turned-politician Faesal — who has been in preventive custody since the second week of August, days after the Modi government scrapped Article 370 — is believed to be considering the dissolution of the JKMP, said his party colleagues who met him recently.
Faesal has been staying at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre, which has been converted into a sub jail by state administration to house political prisoners. His party workers who met him there said Faesal had given them “feelers” about re-considering his career in politics and advised them to suspend all political activities for the time being.
A JKPM source told ThePrint that Faesal had spoken about the possibility of dissolving the party all together and relocating abroad.
Faesal, before his detention, in an interview to the BBC had said after the removal of J&K’s special status, a politician in Kashmir can either be a “stooge or a separatist”.
Rashid quits on Twitter
Rashid, who is facing sedition charges for accusing the army of torturing people, announced her decision to quit electoral politics on Twitter.
“The government of India keeps inviting people to ‘join the mainstream’. However, the Centre’s actions have, for decades now, only served to push people out of the mainstream. If being in the mainstream means compromising on the basis interests of your people, then one cannot be part of such a mainstream! If the state really wants the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to join the mainstream, it first needs to demonstrate that it is capable of delivering justice. I will continue to be an activist and raise my voice against injustice…,” she wrote.
I'd like to make clear my dissociation with the electoral mainstream in Kashmir. Participation in the electoral process in a situation where even the election rhetoric is to be dictated by the centre will only amount to legitimising the actions of the Indian govt in #Kashmir pic.twitter.com/7PMi2aIZdw
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) October 9, 2019
On Tuesday, Rashid had told ThePrint that her decision on whether to continue with the JKPM would “depend on the outcome of Supreme court decision on the issue of Article 370”.
“Personally, for me, the decision by the Supreme Court on the abrogation of Article 370 will offer clarity on whether I want to be a part of electoral politics. I am one of the petitioners in the case,” Rashid said.
She added that for her to be a part of politics even after scrapping of Article 370 would mean legitimising the government’s decision to remove J&K’s special status.
Rashid had refused to comment on the speculation about Faesal’s plan to quit politics. “I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else,” she told ThePrint.
‘JKPM not going anywhere’
JKPM leader Uzair Ronga denied the speculation about Faesal quitting politics and the dissolution of the party.
“The JKPM will not just shut down. We have made a commitment to the people of Kashmir. Abrogating Article 370 was part of BJP’s manifesto and they did it. We, in return, pledge to fight for the return of Article 370 politically,” Ronga said.
Asked whether Faesal had discussed his plans of settling in the US, Ronga said leaving the party at this point won’t go down well with the people to whom promises have been made.
“Where will he go? He had gone to the US for a vocational course. His home is Kashmir. He had no plans to go anywhere. Leaving the party at this crucial juncture will not go down well with the people,” Ronga said.