Published: 09th October 2019
Murder of Democracy: Why Shehla Rashid decided to quit mainstream politics in Kashmir
The former JNU student leader said that she considers it her moral responsibility to speak up and clarify her stance on the electoral process
Shehla Rashid who joined the Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement earlier this year has announced that she will be disassociating from mainstream politics. The statement comes at the heels of the announcement of the Block Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rashid criticised the government for trying to showcase a "normalcy" that does not exist in Kashmir, "Even as the lockdown on millions of citizens continues for over 2 months now, even as the Indian government continues to abduct children in Kashmir, and even as people are deprived of the means to call an ambulance and other emergency services, the centre is soon going to hold elections to the Block Development Councils, in an attempt to showcase "normalcy" to the outside world!" she said. The former JNU student leader said that she considers it her moral responsibility to speak up and clarify her stance on the electoral process.
"I joined a political formation that never asked me to give up my stance regarding the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir on both sides of the border. We believed that it was possible to deliver both justice as well as good governance, and also work for the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir," Shehla said in her statement on Facebook. She added that she believed that this would have been possible had the government respected the rule of law, " However, the centre's recent actions have shown that, when it comes to J&K, it doesn't even respect its own laws, forget international law. The centre also gets away with it because the institutions play along."
She blamed the mounting international pressure on the Indian government to end the 'siege in Kashmir' for the Centre's decision to hold a 'sham electoral exercise' in order to convince the world it is still a democracy. "However, what is underway is not democracy, but the murder of democracy. It is a plan to install puppet leaders. The central government's preferred Kashmir policy since 1953 has been subterfuge and deceit. From outright coup in 1953 to rigged elections in 1987 to stage-managed rhetoric in 2019, the centre has only sophisticated the process of selecting its puppets over time. The centre is currently looking for new 'Bakshis' to legitimise its recent actions with regard to the state of J&K."
She said that the centre is forcing political leaders to contest elections only on the issue of restoration of statehood and asked to keep silent on Article 370, "Anyone who doesn't comply will face incarceration. Anyone challenging their detention will be slapped with the draconian Public Safety Act. It is clear that participation in any political activity in Kashmir requires a compromise."
"If we do not voice our opposition to these actions, and go on about business as usual, these injustices will be on us. I would, therefore, like to make clear my dissociation with the electoral mainstream in Kashmir. I stand in solidarity with my people who are being made to suffer for even the most basic of amenities and being deprived of the most basic of rights. I cannot be party to the exercise of legitimising the brutal suppression of my people," Shehla stated. Ridiculing the government inviting the youth to join mainstream politics, Shehla said that all that the centre has been doing so far is to push people out of the mainstream.
However, vowing to continue working for the state Shehla said she would continue being an activist and will keep on raising her voice against injustice, " I'll continue to put my energies behind the Supreme Court petition seeking the restoration of special status of the state, and the reversal of bifurcation of the state. I request people to support me and my co-petitioners in this fight. If we fail, it shouldn't be for lack of trying. We owe the future generations that much." She added that even the sedition case against her will not stop her from 'speaking the truth'.