I don’t have any option to act the way I do: Er. Rashid

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“PDP, NC have sold their conscience a long time ago”

Engineer Rashid –the MLA from Langate, no stranger to controversy and confrontational politics- who was beaten up by BJP MLA’s in the premises of the Legislative Assembly and was later subjected to an ink and tar attack in New Delhi by the Hindu Sena activists talks about his reasons for joining politics, his fears, aspirations and his larger vision for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Engineer Rashid spoke to Farooq Shah of Kashmir Observer in an interview a day after the ink and tar attacks. Excerpts:

How long can you sustain your way and method of politics?

I admit I don’t have an imposing position but as long as I have air in my lungs, I would continue to listen to the voice of my conscience. I don’t have any option but to act the way I do.

One criticism doing the rounds these days is that you are not a team player; you like and prefer to act solo. How far is this true?

That to some extent is true. I am confident that with time well meaning people would join me in my campaign so that honour and respect which a common Kashmiri has been craving since long is upheld.     

Do you have a plan beyond playing the media and catchy sound bytes?

I have been agitating for the past six years now and trying other ways too. I did an extensive signature campaign against the beef ban. From the Afzal Guru hanging to Machhil and Pathribal encounter; from bad governance to providing rations; from breaking the locks of ration ghats to fixing power transformers myself—I have been doing it all alone and pretty consistently. The ones in the government –Naeem Akhtar and all—they were feeling shy of even putting a signboard at their doors. I was the one who spent Rs 4000 to make signboards for them.

Your courting of controversy and confrontation is making people speculate about your real motives and agenda. What is your real agenda?

It’s an unfortunate thing if they speculate anything fishy. I don’t have a personal agenda. My aim is to serve peoples’ aspirations.

Is your aim to provoke major political parties of the state into purposeful action?

PDP or NC—they have shamelessly sold their conscience a very long time ago. At the Centre and outside, they talk something else and here in Kashmir, something else. They have lost all the credibility. My aim is to yell truth at them. They should know there is a lion out there who has the courage to roar at them.

You try to straddle the thin and fine line between mainstream and separatist politics? Is this correct?

It does not matter to Engineer Rashid whether he is called a separatist or otherwise. If telling the truth is separatism, let them call me so.

If so, how long can you realistically sustain it before powers that be take serious notice?

I am a small time politician who stands out from the rest as a truthful, honest man. I am dead against this VIP culture and want to do away with it. Whether I succeed in it, is a different story altogether.

What has inspired you to join politics? What do you really want?

Day in and day out, I witnessed people being beaten black and blue by the security forces and police. I saw politicians selling beautiful dreams to them. I saw young educated boys hanker after jobs. I couldn’t bear all the pain inflicted upon them and decided to take the plunge and get rid of their problems.

What is your vision for the state of Jammu and Kashmir?

As I said I am a small time politician representing a constituency but I am not hopeful that something dramatic would happen. Reason: the people here lack resolve to fasten onto a stand. Their lack of steadfast loyalty is something that worries me the most. I wouldn not be surprised if I find myself alone in my struggle.  “I had started off alone and people left me in the middle and rendered me alone,” he humorously rendered the Urdu couplet. “Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil, Log saath aate gaye karvaan banta gaya,” as “Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil, Log raste se bhaagte gaye aur main akela reh gaya.”

If Er. Rashid were head of a major political party in Kashmir, what would he do at this point in time?

Ifs and buts!!! Well given a chance, I would impress upon both India and Pakistan to sit on the table and resolve Kashmir issue once for all.

At other occasions, I would want that all the assets including our own power projects be returned to us. I would want that Article-298 be summarily scrapped without harming the religious harmony of the state.

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