New Delhi: Shehla Rashid Shora, former vice-president of JNU Students' Union with roots in Kashmir, recently spoke to this reporter about the ongoing crisis in the state and its widespread implications. Apart from citing how the BJP-PDP alliance failed in multiple areas in the state, she also blamed the alliance for creating the "worst situation" for people of the state.
Edited excerpts of the interview follow:
Tell us a bit about your current activities in Kashmir. And what is your take on youth politics in a region like Kashmir?
Currently, I am meeting Kashmiri people — especially youths, and asking them to join mainstream politics. Although student politics is banned in Kashmir, I am making efforts to raise youth-based issues and make them a part of our democracy. I think youth politics could be one of the main methods to create peace and promote healthy interaction between the people in the Valley. However, the previous government failed in securing this goal — especially in south Kashmir.
You have criticised the BJP-PDP coalition for failing on the economic and social fronts. How have they failed? How is this likely to affect the next Assembly election in Kashmir?
The BJP-PDP coalition was an unnatural alliance and there was no mechanism in the state administration during their term. For example, several state government employees who were hired under policies like SRO 202 and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have not received their salaries till today. Despite criticism from various quarters, GST was forcefully introduced in the Valley and it demolished several firms in the state. According to me, Kashmiris will respond appropriately in the upcoming elections and National Conference will turn out to be the strongest group.
How would you rate Mehbooba Mufti's performance in this bipolar coalition, with regard to the 2014 mandate by the state?
She has been shameful for Kashmir. Although I was happy when she became the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, it soon turned into a hazardous affair for the people. I will rate her one out of 10, just for sitting in the office. Despite being a woman herself, no proactive measures were taken against the accused in the Kathua rape case.
While there is considerable speculation over the possible 'muscular approach' in Kashmir now, Governor NN Vohra is also remembered for expediting development work and restoring peace during his previous term as Jammu and Kashmir administrator (in early 2015) before the BJP-PDP joined hands. How will Vohra's term as governor turn out for Kashmir?
He could have reached out to the people of Kashmir to solve their problems, but there were no such efforts. On the other hand, the BJP is creating militants every day in the state. I also want to add one thing: Elections should be declared at the earliest in Jammu and Kashmir, as the BJP is planning to hold state Assembly elections along with Lok Sabha election.
What do you expect from the Union government after the imposition of Governor's Rule?
It is obvious that the Union government's only aim is to rule the state through the governor. This is an unfair practice in a democracy. This government has completely failed in establishing peace and order in the Valley and elections are the need of the hour.
Mehbooba stated that she asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have a dialogue with Pakistan. Do you agree with this statement?
I don't think so. I believe that Modi has not spoken on this issue with Mehbooba even once. Both parties of the alliance just believe(d) in controlling power in the state.
Were you in Jammu and Kashmir between 1990 and 1996, when the state was under then governor Jagmohan's administration and subsequent Governor's Rule for a total of six years? Tell us what you remember from that period?
I was very young at that time. I just remember that in 1996, we were happy that the elections were going to take place in the state — even though the situation wasn't that good even back then.
You have openly opposed the BJP and the RSS. What alternative would you ask people to favour in the 2019 election?
Right now, I am in favour of the Grand Alliance, but the coalition should be formed on the people's agenda. There should be a struggle to solve people's problems and not to secure a position.
Is there a possibility of floating a party with JNU student activists (Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, you and others), Jignesh Mevani and other like-minded people? How are you planning to engage with the people in the pre-election period?
There is no scope for creating a political party. We have already started our pre-election campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. For instance, I am focussing on Kashmir and Kanhaiya is focussed on Bihar. We are also planning to campaign for the Grand Alliance.
Who do you think could be the probable prime ministerial candidate under the Grand Alliance?
This has to be decided within the alliance. Every group and every party should get equal opportunities. The Grand Alliance must be like a rainbow, unlike the BJP — which has become a two-man party. Minorities and other groups from humble backgrounds should also be able to present their opinions and views in this coalition.
The author is a New Delhi-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 10:27 AM