‘Can’t legitimise suppression’: Shehla Rashid quits politics

Six months after her foray into mainstream politics, former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Shehla Rashid on Wednesday announced she is quitting electoral politics in Kashmir following the move to hold Block Development Council elections, saying she can’t be a party to the exercise of legitimising the “suppression” of people.

Rashid, who became a prominent face of student activism following a controversy over a 2016 event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University during which alleged anti-national slogans were raised, had earlier this year joined the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement floated by former IAS officer Shah Faisal.

In a statement, the former JNUSU vice-president said she was compelled to dissociate “with the electoral mainstream in Kashmir” due to the central government’s move to hold Block Development Council elections later this month in Jammu and Kashmir, which she termed as a “sham electoral exercise”.

“I cannot be party to the exercise of legitimiaing the brutal suppression of my people. I would, therefore, like to make clear my dissociation with the electoral mainstream in Kashmir.

“I will continue to be an activist and raise my voice against injustice on all fronts that do not require a compromise and 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,” she said in the statement.

Restrictions have been imposed since August 5 in the Valley after the Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.

Rashid said she had joined politics as she believed 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 and Kashmir”.

She claimed political leaders in the state are being forced to contest elections only on the issue of restoration of statehood, and asked to keep quiet about Article 370 and bifurcation of the state.

“It is clear that participation in any political activity in Kashmir requires a compromise,” she claimed.

Rashid said the government keeps inviting the youth to join the mainstream but alleged its actions have only served to push people out of the mainstream.

The former JNU Students Union leader’s announcement of quitting mainstream politics came on the day the Congress party said it would not contest the Block Development Council polls.

Rashid was a prominent face of the student movement in 2016 after the arrest of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with an event on JNU campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

She was charged with sedition last month for her tweets levelling allegations against the armed forces in the Valley.

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