Srinagar: J&K Peoples Movement (JKPM) leader Shehla Rashid on Wednesday quit mainstream politics in protest against holding of Block Development Council (BDC) elections at a time when situation remained uncertain in Kashmir due to 'lockdown', strike and gag on communication from over last two months.
Ms Rashid, a former student leader and activist, had joined JKPM in March 2019. The party was launched in the same month by former IAS officer turned-politician Shah Faisal.
Terming holding of BDC election 'during the ongoing crisis in the valley as a murder of democracy', Ms Shehla alleged that the polls were being held by the Centre in an attempt to showcase 'normalcy' to the outside world.
Meanwhile, shutdown continued for the 66th day on Wednesday in Kashmir valley, where people are protesting against scrapping of Article 370, besides bifurcating the state into two Union Territories on August 5.
Ms Rashid said in such a situation, she considers it her moral responsibility to speak up and clarify her stance on the electoral process and the way forward.
"In view of mounting international pressure on the Indian government to end the siege in Kashmir, the centre now wants to showcase a sham electoral exercise in order to convince the world that it is still a democracy," she alleged.
However, she said what is underway is not democracy, but the murder of democracy. "Political leaders 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. 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," she further alleged.
She said the government of India keeps inviting youth to "join the mainstream".However, she said 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 basic interests of your people, then one cannot be part of such a mainstream. If the state really wants the youth of Jammu & Kashmir to join the mainstream, it first needs to demonstrate that it is capable of delivering justice," she said.
Ms Rashid said she will continue to be an activist and raise her voice against injustice on all fronts that do not require a compromise, and she will continue to put her 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.(UNI)