On Sunday, March 17, former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Shah Faesal launched a youth-focused political party from Jammu and Kashmir.
Calling his party the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM), Faesal addressed a crowd of hundreds at the party launch in Srinagar, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
He was clear that his party will be inclusive and youth- and minority-focused.
“The youth here are angry. It is the youth who are rendering sacrifices. Pellets and bullets hit the youth, they get killed. We want to save our youth who are sacrificing their lives,” he said at the launch.
Faesal’s party is focused on delivering political justice, social action, effective governance, and public accountability to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Former vice-president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Shehla Rashid Shora has joined Faesal’s party.
Noted businessmen Feroz Pirzada and Baldev Singh, Professor Dr. Musatafa Hafiz, and lawyers Uzair Rounga and Iqbal Tahir, too, have joined the JKPM.
Shah Faesal’s political start
In 2010, Faesal topped the UPSC examinations. A former doctor and IAS officer, Faesal was the district commissioner of Bandipora.
In January, he resigned from his decade-long civil service career to protest “unabated killings” in Kashmir. He also said the Centre was indifferent to Kashmiris’ plight.
Essentially, his political party hopes to push against the status quo of Indian politics. Ever since he quit, Faesal has been building support for his own political agenda in Kashmir.
The Wire reports that the JKPM is using the slogan “Hawabadlegi”, meaning the winds will change.
In her speech at the launch event, Rashid said Kashmiri students, young people, and women are encouraged to join the party and voice their concerns.
“It will be our agenda to empower students,” she said.
In a Vision Document, the JKPM said it wants to peacefully resolve the Kashmir problem as per the aspirations of the state’s residents.
Faesal and his party members hope to “engender sustainable peace in J&K by making the people politically empowered, economically prosperous, socially emancipated, ethically evolved, culturally enlightened, and environmentally conscious”.
More specifically, the party has six broad pillars: Resolution of the Kashmir issue, People’s dignity, Economic self-reliance, Sustainable development, Social justice, and Public accountability.
JKPM intends to protect the special status of Kashmir as decided by Article 35A of the Constitution.
It wants to safeguard the state’s natural resources, such as waterbodies, mountains, and forest cover.
The party also wants to improve employment numbers and ensure equitable development in all regions—Jammu, Kashmir, Leh-Kargil, Chenab Valley, and Peer Panchal.
It also wants all minorities—Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, and Kashmiri Pandits—represented in the lawmaking process.
The party is even pushing for equal rights for women, young people, and members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Support for Faesal
Current leaders and politicians received the news of Rashid and Faesal’s new party well. Many people have taken to social media to express their hope for JKPM’s success.
Former president of JNU Student Union Kanhaiya Kumar said, “Hoping your initiative will provide a much needed political platform to the Young Minds and bring peace, growth and stability in the valley.”
Congress member Salman Anees Soz and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani also expressed their support for the JKPM.
Although no official announcements have been made, JKPM is likely to put candidates for the Lok Sabha elections later this year.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.