An influential businessman from Sumbal-Sonwari belt of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, Yasir Reshi was elected to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council by the PDP after he lost by few hundred votes in 2014 Assembly elections. Nephew of advocate Shafi Reshi, who is the legal secretary of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasir is credited for changing the fortunes of the party in Bandipora district.
After a rebellion broke out in the PDP, Yasir became the fifth prominent face who joined the ‘rebel group’ that has been demanding an end to the ‘two-family’ rule in Jammu and Kashmir. He issued a statement criticising former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti but refused to speak to the media. Breaking his silence for the first time, Yasir spoke exclusively with this correspondent on Monday. Edited excerpts:
Have you officially left the PDP? Are you going to join the Imran Ansari-led group now that has been demanding an end to the rule of the Abdullah and Mufti families?
No. I have not left PDP yet. I have raised my voice against dynasty rule. I have issued a statement to that effect. What I said in that statement are things I have been saying for the past three years. People are saying there is a ‘third front’ coming up, but that is not the case. Imran Ansari is not saying there should be a third front. He is saying we are ready to walk with anyone who will talk about Kashmir and Kashmiris, but not with people who belong to dynasties. But at the same time if we are part of India and take an oath (to abide by the) Indian Constitution when getting elected, why should we criticise and loathe the same Indian State for small issues which have nothing to do with New Delhi? Even while handling a serious issue like the Kathua rape case, Mehbooba Mufti could have handled it maturely as a chief minister.
Why this sudden change of heart? Before the PDP-BJP coalition collapsed, you had no grievances? Now that you are out of power, you have problems with Abdullahs and Muftis.
I joined politics because I wanted to work with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. When I joined him, Mufti Sahib used to tell me four things: First, we have to work against corruption. Second, we have to work towards integration of Kashmir with India. Thirdly, we have to talk about Kashmiri people and lastly, we have to get rid of dynastic rule of the state.
But his daughter Mehbooba Mufti went on to become the chief minister after his death? Wasn’t that dynastic rule?
She was a political worker. It (chief ministership) was forced on her. And when she became the chief minister, sadly she did exactly what dynastic rulers do.
So you are saying that the moment she became the chief minister, she succumbed to the old rules by concentrating power in the hands of her family members?
Exactly. There is resentment in our party against this. The lava has been boiling for a long time. Most of the MLAs and senior leaders are against dynasty rule. But she inducted people from her family like Sartaj Madani, her uncle, as vice-president when there were senior people like Muzaffar Hussain Beg, Abdul Rahim Veeri, Tariq Hamid Karra, Qazi Afzal and Nizam-ud-Din Bhat waiting in line. This is why Karra left. She is now saying she felt alone, which is why she brought her family members into the party as well as the government. It means she doesn’t trust the party leaders. If they allow people apart from the family members to run the party affairs, the PDP will survive. Why not get Beg sahib back? If he comes back, I don’t think there will be any problem.
What should happen now? The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing unending turmoil. Do you believe there is still hope?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised people that he will get rid of Muftis and Abdullahs. But in the end, his party aligned with the same dynasty rulers. If democracy has to flourish in this state, then these voices who are coming together should get a chance. What the prime minister can do is to allow people, who have come together to get the state politics out of the hand of these two families, to flourish. This would be flourishing of true democracy in Kashmir and at the grassroots level. If New Delhi doesn’t allow these voices to flourish, then it will be the real murder of democracy. The biggest contribution of Modi would be to give an alternative in politics to the people of Kashmir, not these worn-out families.
How can the prime minister help these voices who are trying to make another political block in the state? Many see the revival of the alliances that flourished in the state before the insurgency broke out.
The prime minister talks about merit. People should be given a chance on the basis of merit, and not on basis of the family they belong to. I don’t think all MLAs will leave PDP, but there will be a massive change. We have to change the leadership of the PDP. It can’t be one family running the party. If they don’t agree, take it from me that one-third of PDP leaders will come and form another PDP. See, people have to understand, including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, that there have been wars over dynasty rules and for democracy. And there has to be a war against dynasty rule in Jammu and Kashmir now. It doesn’t matter what shape it takes. The MLAs from National Conference, Congress and PDP, who are against these two families, will come together and form the government with BJP. It might not happen till election but it will happen after the elections.
Are the resentments only among PDP leaders or are they also among workers?
Democracy at the grassroots level is strengthened by workers. Our party humiliated those workers. They got killed in south Kashmir and no one went to their homes because of fear. Is there so much powerlessness that we can’t overpower militants and visit their families? Why are there so many army, police and CRPF personnel in this state if we can’t go to the houses of our workers? Are militants running this state? People who voted or mobilised people to vote have suffered in the last three years. They live the life of criminals. On top of that, our workers were not helped by the party. I have said this in every meeting. Mufti sahib used to say that the worker is your eyesight. Look what has happened to them in last three years. All of this must change.
Omar Abdullah said on Twitter that the rebellion brewing in the PDP is being orchestrated by New Delhi’s intelligence agencies. What are your comments?
If intelligence agencies are doing everything in Kashmir, then it means they have been ruling Kashmir for so many decades. (It means) that it is not the voter who elected his or her rulers, but the intelligence agencies who were installing them in office. If today these agencies are creating another group, as we can hypothetically assume, what is wrong with it? Omar’s problem is that we are outside the dynasties and both Abdullahs and Muftis will not like this. They will want the power to remain between these two families. Such is their understanding of democracy.
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Updated Date: Jul 09, 2018 20:51:33 IST