Noted writer, literary activist and a well known politician from Jammu and Kashmir Er-Rashid a multifaceted personality. He is currently the patron of the ‘Awami Ittihaad Party’ (AIP) and MLA of Langate constituency from North Kashmir.
In an exclusive interview with the “NEWS KASHMIR”, ER RASHID meets our Special correspondent ‘SYED TAJAMUL ‘IMRAN’ Recently in Delhi and shares his views about the beef row, current political scenario and other things.
Q:- After doing engineering and working as Government employee what brought you into Mainstream politics which is considered a degraded job in our part of the world?
Er:- (Smiling) ‘Degraded job’ ! It may be degraded job for some people but it is a worship if done with sincerity it can change the destiny of anyone by this one can help to those who are in need. It was the atrocities of police, army and the miseries of my people at all fronts which pushed me to join the politics and I think it was need of the hour to avoid atrocities from state actors.
Q:- Was life better as Employee, as Activist or now as politician?
Er:- It all depends upon situations, some times I feel life was better as employee when I was serving and performing my duty and was trying to fight in a corrupt system, sometimes I feel it was better as an activist because being an activist you are free to raise the voice against every bad thing happening and you would still get less enemies, But I believe being a politician it is tough to do business as you get more enemies even you contribute more good. I think as a government employee I was feeling better.
Q:- You took oath under Indian constitution like other legislators and still you believe and say loudly Kashmir is not part of India?
Er:- Kashmir Issue is always there, unless not resolved and participating in elections has nothing to do with Kashmir issue. I reiterate that the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir has to be in accordance with the aspirations of the people. Indian state has time and again promised a resolution to the dispute. So talking about Kashmir dispute and its resolution does not mean working against sovereignty of India.
Q:- You have been vocal against the role of National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But at the time of alliance you advocated the idea of grand “secular” alliance between them?
Er:- Very true., but we had to try to choose good among the worst and there was no option but to try for a lesser evil to govern the state.
Q:- How do you view the present PDP-BJP Government as far as governance is concerned & present political scenario of Jammu and Kashmir?
Er:- I think these lines suites for Mufti’s PDP “Na khuda hi mila, na visaal-e-sanam Na idhar ke rahe, na udhar ke rahe!!” As far as Governance is concerned, it seems bureaucrats have taken over and political setup is confused and PDP has to do much of the business in clearing its image which gets damaged on daily basis by arrogant BJP’s irresponsible slogans. BJP led government at the centre seems to have iota of a concern about aspirations of Kashmiris and that has proved as a nail in the coffin of PDP.
Q:- How do you see the stand of PDP on rehabilitation of Flood victims in Kashmir?
Er:- I need not to make a comment on it because when there was anniversary of last years devastating Floods a complete strike in Kashmir was observed against ignoring of the victims of this grave tragedy by Centre . How sad that Modi has used these floods to abuse Pakistan at international forums but reduced Kashmiris to beggars at home.
Q:- How do you view the return of Kashmiri Pandits?
Er:- I think they are safe were they presently are. They had not left the Valley after consulting their Muslim brothers and in fact had left them at the mercy of guns and violence. It is their land and they can come when they wish but without adding salt to the injuries of majority community and have to ensure that they will not get exploited as usual at the hands of New Delhi to abuse Kashmiris. However nobody should expect them to return as they are enjoying job packages, huge monthly relief and all other facilities.
Q:- What is your stand on the ban on beef in the state?
Er:- I am of the belief that nobody even High Court, Supreme Court of any country can decide what people should eat and what not. When it comes to beef my religion Islam also allows me to eat it and I will fight for my religious and fundamental rights till my last breath and nobody can stop me.
Q:- On this ‘BEEF’ row you were beaten and dragged in state assembly how do you see that?
Er:- You should ask this to my fellow colleagues from PDP and BJP who have not only tried to do worst with me in the assembly but their shameless act has disgraced the institution of assembly. However I can only pray Almighty to give Mufti Sahib some sense so that BJP goons will revisit their communal politics. Leela Karan has already said that if Er Rashid could be taken to task in assembly how could he be treated in Jammu needs not to be explained. However these dirty acts cannot restrain me from speaking for my oppressed people.
Q; You were attacked with ink in Delhi along with families of victims, how do you see it?
Er: I have nothing personal with those who attacked us in New Delhi and don’t want to blame few goons who attacked us. Our fight is with the Sang Parivar who are always very keen to harm Muslims and when it comes to Kashmiris they turn more eager to do adventures. It has just proved that Delhi is always biased towards Kashmiris and doesn’t treat people of Kashmir as Indians.
Q:- Kavinder Gupta the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker has not suspended anyone of them who attacked on you as he suspended NC legislators before the incident happened on same ‘beef’ row?
Er:- I don’t expect justice from a person who proudly says “I am a RSS man” and please don’t forget it is not only BJP but all other parties who often had been hurting my sentiments and calling me sometimes a separatist and on other occasion a Pakistani agent. So it is all against one when Er Rashid speaks facts in the assembly.
Q:- Do you believe that there are signs of a pro-militancy sentiment resurfacing. And that is why joined one’s are getting a good response on social media?
Er:- India has let down Kashmiris time and again and never moved even an inch for the resolution of dispute. Not only that but, has ironically made the provision of mortal remains of autonomy also controversial by various ways and means. The rigid attitude of India to resolve Kashmir dispute has forced new generation to analyze and introspect the events of last 25years and the outcome is obviously the conclusion that India has claimed the victory in the war, it forces Kashmiris to go to any extent to get Kashmir issue resolved and youth after seeing political leadership having completely failed use other options to reach out India.
Q:- Some of your critics also say “Er. Is a man of agencies? And some of your fans say “Er. Is a man with ease”?
Er:- I am what I am. I don’t need anyone’s certificate to prove myself, if talking about facts and realities gives me any name I don’t care. I like every Kashmiri have suffered much and am grown up through all the devastation state has faced during last 25years. I can’t agree J&K being India’s integral part as Kashmir dispute is alive from UN to Shimla and Tashkent to Agra. Those who say what you said are cowards and traders and are afraid of my clear and realistic stand about issues.
Q:- You are seen as a ‘separatist’ in the assembly? Have you suffered in any way because of your ideology?
Er:- If talking Truth is separatism them I am proud to be the separatist, Yes of-course I have suffered in every aspect socially, politically and economically but that will never stop me from pursuing my cause.
Q:- Many of your opponents say you make a laughing stock of yourself, As most of your issues are always rejected by assembly?
Er:- It is their choice, why should somebody laugh if rulers are not ready to face the truth. Infact they try to hide their failures and dual policies under these cunning laughs. Truth doesn’t need anybody’s appreciation and authentication. It has its own norms and history will one day judge my cries and their laughing.
Q:- What is wearing a Kashmiri Pheran in assembly and political activities and moving around without security means for you, are not you afraid?
Er:- Nothing special or new except the fact that my Dress code is my culture and my identity and I can’t compromise it. Pheran is our traditional dress and that is why I wear it, whenever I require it, By Wearing Pheran in Assembly it gives a message to so-called legislators that people of Kashmir were tortured and humiliated for wearing This Pheren most of the times in 90’s by army and other agencies. As far as security is concerned My God “Almighty Allah” is the protector and also my people. I have not harmed nor ever imagine of harming even my enemies so why should I be worried of my enemies. I have a logic and argument to defend my view point, why should anybody harm me for that.
Q:- Do you feel isolated in assembly when you raise issues like AFSPA and such other issues?
Er:- Very often I do feel isolated in and outside assembly as my views and stand doesn’t fulfill the requirement of their masters but I have to do what I am doing.
Q:- What can be the way ahead to resolve kashmir issue?
Er:- United Nations Resolutions.
Q:- There are issues like killing of innocent people and human rights violations?
Er:- We believe that human life is precious and nobody has the right to harm anybody but Issues like killing of innocent people and human rights violations will remain their till the basic political problem is resolved. Obviously state has to be more responsible in conflicts but here the situation is reverse.
Q:- The Jammu and Kashmir high court has recently made it clear that their will be no changes in 370 and it will never removed ?
Er:- I will tell you one thing, Article 370 whether they drag it or have it, it doesn’t make a difference because the basic Kashmir Dispute has nothing to do with art 370. It is an internal adjustment between Kashmir and Delhi, if Delhi wants to weaken article 370 it will further harm New Delhi not Kashmiris.
Q:- Share your views about the current spat between India and Pakistan talks, Growing tension on border, and its effect on Jammu and Kashmir?
Er:- These talks have yielded nothing in the past and nobody should expect the miracles to happen as India has always tried to manage the problem and has never been sincere to talks. Ultimately it is human being who gets killed at borders and elsewhere. Just sermons from anyone will never help in easing tension unless political dispute is not resolved.
Q:- You in one breath have said that the Indira-Abdullah Accord is nothing and in other breath while taking the exception to Governor NN Vohra’s statement last year you said that the Accord was a historical deal?
Er:- Then Sheikh Abdullah was not the elected prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, so in which capacity he signed the accord and in 1975 he was neither MLA nor anything else so that deal is already under question mark. Indra-Abdullah accord has also not been able to address the internal dimension of Kashmir problem but has just helped India to maintain status co. Yes the accord was historic as it led Kashmiris to disappointment and forced them to take to arms struggle few years later. The Accord yielded nothing except power for Sheikh dynasty.
Q:- Do you still believe that Without active involvement of syed Salah-u-din who is the chairman of UJC, there is no solution to Kashmir issue is possible?
Er:- Obviously because militants are sacrificing everything including their lives. Their families have been forced to live a life under consequent threat and humiliation by the state agencies. Nobody talked about Kashmir till armed struggle began. We may differ with the way of working of militants but can’t ignore them. I am not talking only about Syed Salah-u-Din I am talking that you should talk to militants, if you could talks with militants in Nagaland, Assam, if America can talk with Al-Qaida and Taliban then what is wrong in talking to UJC Chief because Kashmiris treat them custodians of their sacrifices.
Q:- As you have your own party “Awami Ittihaad party” What is being done to make party position strong in All 3 regions especially Jammu and Ladakh?
Er:- Let me be honest, I was never optimistic about idea of forming a party but my some well-wishers who forced me to give a platform, and AIP is just a platform for good people who really want help Kashmiris, it (AIP) is open to everybody and let people decide if they want us to speak for them.
Q:- How do you desire to see Jammu & Kashmir and what is your message to people of state?
Er:- I want to see Jammu & Kashmir a prosperous state. A place where our kids can sleep without fear, where we will not be asked to prove our identity, wherever religious and cultural rights are preserved and where we can say with proud my J&K. To achieve this we have to be sincere, strategically and committed to compel Indian for a genuine solution. Let us not lose the hope as truth has always prevailed and same will be true with us one day.