Shah Faesal, the 2010 IAS topper from Jammu and Kashmir who resigned from the bureaucracy in January, launched his party – Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Movement in Srinagar in a public rally on Sunday and said it will pursue a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem.
A few thousand people gathered at a park in uptown Raj Bagh at the launch of the party where many young faces were in attendance. Among them was former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Shehla Rashid who joined the party to enter active politics.
Speakers including businessmen, academics, doctors and lawyers talked of a ‘new breeze’ or ‘new spring’ in the state politics.
Faesal started by invoking the Quran about ‘good deeds, patience and perseverance’. During his speech he insisted that his party was not of particular religion or region but for the entire state including Dogras of Jammu, Buddhists of Ladakh and Pandits and Muslims.
He talked about the youth in distress and their representation. “Pellets or bullets hit youth here who die. .. Despite studying in universities and having PhDs, they are in distress, they are giving their lives and similarly a CRPF man or a soldier, who come from faraway places, also sacrifice at their own level. It is necessary to stop this war which is going on,” he said.
He did not say whether his party would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Faesal resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in January this year to protest “unabated killings in Kashmir and absence of credible political initiative from the Centre”.
He said that when he joined the IAS he wanted to bring peace in Kashmir valley through development, but he realised that his diagnosis was wrong.
“After 10 years I realized till the time youth here are in stress, till the time bloodshed continues, till the time our mothers’ and daughters’ honor is not safe…development means nothing,” he said.
The 35-yearold, who hails from Kupwara district, became a household name after he became the first person from the state to top the IAS exam in 2010. His resignation was equally talked about in the Valley and outside.
He also said that after he decided to form a party some people described it as “conspiracy of the Centre”.
“History is witness that any new idea or a revolution is first rejected. Then conspiracies are hatched against that and even wars are fought. We have the example of our Prophet (Peace be upon him). These things have happened in the past and I am ready for all the abuses and conspiracies by political rivals,” he said.
He also said his party will pursue a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem as per the will and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and with “dignity and respect”.
“As a mainstream political party, we feel the solution of Kashmir issue is between two countries. We won’t claim that we will do magic and solve the issue. It is a long road. We can only facilitate. We can emerge as a voice between two countries. And we can reduce the space between Srinagar and New Delhi,” he said.
He also appealed to India and Pakistan to adopt better options for engagement other than trading fire along the international border and the Line of Control that take the lives of ordinary villagers.
“People from border and LoC have come here whose lives are affected most when there is shelling between India and Pakistan. The two countries should adopt better options for engagement. They do politics on the lives of Gujjar and Pahari people. Don’t they have any other way to do it?” he said.
Shehla Rashid, an old city resident who became vice-president of JNU students union in 2015-16, asked women of the state to come forward and claim their space. “We know women have suffered the most in this conflict. We want more and more women join this party. I want to invite youth and students who are not allowed to make a union. Where have I come from? Am I from any political dynasty? Do I have crores? No. I have come from student politics,” she said.