Srinagar- Stating that Kashmir was not comparable to Gaza, former JNU student leader and BJP critic, Shehla Rashid has credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for achieving a “bloodless” political solution to Kashmir.
In a notable shift, once firebrand Modi critic Shehla Rashid in an interview acknowledged changes in Jammu and Kashmir and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s policies for ‘stable governance and economy’ in Jammu and Kashmir.
In an interview with news agency ANI, Rashid said Modi was a ‘selfless man’.
She emphasized that the current situation in Kashmir is distinct from Gaza, citing a reduction in protests and sporadic incidents of insurgency and street protests.
In 2010, yes,” Shehla Rashid said. “But today, when I see it, I am much more grateful for today’s situation. Kashmir is not Gaza, it has become clear that Kashmir is not Gaza, because Kashmir was just involved in these back-and-forth protests and sporadic incidents of insurgency and infiltrations,” she said.
Rashid, who seems to be in complete awe of the prime minister and his decisions, during the interview, claimed there have been zero civilian casualties since 2019, the year when Article 370 was revoked in Kashmir.
“The present government treats Kashmir not as a security problem, but as a political problem. Because of Article 370, there was a sense that we are separated. There was a sense that we are special, but it wasn’t really serving any purpose; but people held on to it. People like me used to say that this is a sign of federalism, and federalism is good within the ambit of the Indian Constitution. But the abrogation has served to end the duality… the identity crisis.. the hesitation to say ‘Are you an Indian or are you a Kashmiri?’ has ended. I credit the current establishment for not treating Kashmir as a law and order or security problem because it was not. I think they managed to correctly diagnose the problem,” she said.
“Right now, we see a really well-intentioned administration. The Prime Minister – he doesn’t care about criticism. He has taken so many radical decisions, even at the cost of his popularity. He doesn’t care about criticism. He is a selfless man who works for the national interest. You look at the Home Minister – he has ensured peace in Kashmir, regardless of what anyone criticised at that time,” she said.
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to Srinagar told Kashmiris that it is their country and they can live and go wherever they want. These were his exact words. And we should take a moment and acknowledge that we are living through a historically very important phase. We should be lucky that we are in this country and not anywhere else in the world right now. Because there is peace, there is development and we’ve just overtaken our former colonizers, the United Kingdom as the fifth largest economy,” she said further.
‘Zero civilian casualties in Kashmir’
Rashid was quoted by the ANI, “There have been court-martial cases of some army personnel who were involved in the fake encounter. Is it not what we were asking all along? There will be people who will say why you are saying this? They have not actually visited Kashmir recently. They have not seen the kind of change, the visible change. That’s why I decided to speak out,” she said.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre issued an order amending The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, and superseding it with The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019. The Indian government made all provisions of the Constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir and amended Article 367 to directly apply the Constitution of India to the region.
On August 6, the President issued a declaration under Article 370(3), rendering all of its clauses, except the one stating that all articles of the Constitution shall apply to J&K, inoperative.
Shehla was amongst the 23 petitioners who had moved the Supreme Court against the revocation of Article 370 in 2022, alongside Kashmiri bureaucrat and 2010 IAS topper Shah Faesal. However, the duo later withdrew their names from the petition and came out in support of the Center’s decision.
“There are congressional committee reports in the US that will still say restore the internet in Kashmir whereas the internet is in full bloom, 5G is working. But a lot of these narratives whether they are motivated they know. It is a feature of our times. It is polarisation. People do not want to acknowledge their opponents for doing good work and that is not good for democracy,” she told ANI.
‘Muslims are lucky to live in Modi’s India’
On being asked about the discrimination and atrocities the Muslim community faces, Rashid said that political academics classify them as the second largest majority instead of the minority.
She said that Muslims should consider themselves lucky to be living in India. “Yes, they hurt you as a Muslim, but as a Muslim do we keep focusing or harping on that narrative on the negatives? I don’t think so because we’ve lost years doing that. This is our country as much as it is anyone else’s country,” Rashid said.
On growing communalism, Rashid said that it existed way before the inception of the Bharatiya Janata Party. “Is there communalism in this country, yes. Seventy years back we were partitioned on a religious basis. So we cannot say that communalism began when the BJP came in 2014. We have been partitioned on religious lines and it was a bloody partition by all accounts. There has been communalism and there will continue to be communalism. At the same time, the problem with the critical orientation is that we only focus on the negatives. We forget to celebrate the positives,” she said.
The former student leader acknowledged her struggles at JNU, particularly after the sedition charges against former research scholar Umar Khalid and then JNU Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar in 2017. Rashid highlighted the backlash against JNU and emphasized that certain slogans, such as ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’ and ‘Laal Salam,’ were never raised at the university.
Sharing the interview on social media, Rashid captioned it, “What caused my change of heart is the realisation that the Hon’ble PM @narendramodi is a selfless man who is taking radical decisions to transform India. He has braved intense criticism but remained steadfast to his vision of inclusive development that leaves no one behind.”
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