Majid Kapra

Shah Faesal's JKPM not to contest LS elections, urges people to vote

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Srinagar, March 23: Bureaucrat turned politician, Dr Shah Faesal Saturday announced that his recently formed party Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement will not participate in upcoming Lok-Sabha elections in the state but asked the people to vote in large numbers for electing the "right candidates".

Addressing a press conference at Kashmir Press club here, Shah Faesal said since the party is in infancy, it would be inappropriate for it to participate in parliamentary elections at the moment.

He, however, said that he will not lose opportunity to participate in Assembly elections as his party is committed to protect and safeguard Article 35-A and Article 370 which are under attack.

“Our core team held several meetings over the past few days and finally reached the conclusion that party is in initial stage and it would be inappropriate to participate in upcoming parliamentary elections as of now,” said Shah Faesal, who recently resigned from Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to join politics.

He said the main reason for not contesting the polls was to focus more on the mass contact programme.

"The unanimous view was that we are a party still in the stages of infancy and that we should also focus on mass contact programme. This was also our response to those elements who were accusing us of being stooges of the Centre for dividing votes or to foil the boycott in the current elections," he said.

The former bureaucrat said that his party is not eyeing elections, nor was it formed to gain power, but to safeguard and restore the political rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

On being asked as to whom JKPM will support in Lok Sabha elections, he said the decisions on the matter will be separately communicated.

Faesal, however, said people should come out in large numbers to participate in the democratic process.

"Whether there is boycott or not, elections will be held and people will be elected to Parliament. So, people should take part in the democratic process so that the right candidates are elected," he added.

On his party's stand on the challenge to Articles 370 and Article 35-A of the Constitution of India, he said they stood for protection of these provisions, which give special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"These provisions are the link between the Union of India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir and we will strive for their continuation and protection," said Faesal, who came into limelight after becoming the first Kashmiri to top the UPSC civil services exam in 2009 but quit the IAS in January.

In response to a question, Faesal said the ban on JKLF would lead to shrinking of democratic space in Kashmir, and went on to add that he will not be surprised if mainstream political parties too are banned to ensure victory of RSS and BJP in the state.

In apparent reference to PDP, he said the parties that invited these forces into the state deserve to be the beneficiaries of these bans in the first place.

He also condemned the death of Awantipora school teacher in police custody.

"The erring police officials should be arrested and tried. Ultimately, we feel that only a judicial inquiry can unravel the truth behind the death of Rizwan (Pandit)," he said.

Faesal also condemned the killing of a 12-year-old boy allegedly by militants after being taken hostage during an encounter in Hajin area of Bandipora district.

"We saw a tragedy yesterday (Friday) in Hajin where a boy, taken hostage, got killed. We condemn killing of a minor Atif and believe that combatants from both sides should refrain from human rights violations in Kashmir and ensure that non-combatants’ rights are not violated at all,” he added.

He also condemned last week’s attack  on twin mosques at Christchurch city in New Zealand saying the role played by the country’s premier is worth appreciation and world leaders should take lessons from her.

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