We want to deepen democracy across J&K: Faesal

The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM) is not Kashmir-centric and belongs to people of all regions of the state, the party president Shah Faesal said on Sunday.

Addressing party activists and youths during his maiden visit to Jammu after the launch of the JKPM recently, Faesal said: “It is a historic day for us (JKPM) because this is our first public meeting in Jammu. I have been asked several times as to why we have come to Jammu. We could have stayed in Kashmir and ran our political affairs from the Valley. We could have remained Kashmir-centric and tried to win the assembly seats by spreading hatred between the people of the two regions (Jammu and Kashmir). But we have come here to let people of all regions of the state—irrespective of caste, creed, religion or region—come forward and speak their hearts out”.

“We have come here to unite people, to preserve the territorial integrity of the state, its constitutional integrity, its future and the future of the upcoming generations. It is also a happy day because we have not come here to ask for votes, but to meet people and hear them,” Faesal said. Talking about his party’s manifesto, he said: “JKPM is not just a political party, but a movement built on sacrifices. We want to set the trend of honest, straightforward and realistic politics. We want to engage with the future leadership of Jammu, which comprises youth and visionaries”.

Referring to “issues” concerning the people of Jammu, Faesal said: “What I have heard from my conversations with the local civil society members is that the people of Jammu feel that they are being disempowered. The people feel that the politics in the state as well as the institutions in the state are not able to fulfill their aspirations, and that they are not being well represented”.

“The fundamental message I want to give out today is that we (JKPM) will acknowledge all truths, which include Kashmir being a living graveyard, Jammu province being severely affected due to cross-border firing and shelling and Ladakh being disempowered,” Faesal said. “The issue concerning Kashmir, the grievances of the people of Jammu and the aspirations of Ladakh might take some time to be resolved, but we will not lose our humanity, neither will we cut-off the relations around us. Till the political issues are resolved, we do have to live together, work together and move ahead together,” he said.

“We are the first one to talk about interdependency between Jammu and Kashmir regions. Since the past 70 years, the governments have not thought about the trade interdependency between the two regions and the ways to flourish and enhance it”.

“For the past 70 years, successive governments have failed to provide an all-weather road between Jammu and Kashmir. The Mughal Road remains shut for at least six months every year. Is providing road connectivity a tough ask? Why hasn’t it happened yet?” Faesal asked.

About “issues concerning Ladakh”, the JKMP president said: “Till date, the frontier areas of Ladakh still rely on gensets or local small grids for electricity, as the government has failed to construct a 440KV power line to these areas. The successive governments did not think about sustainable development of the region. In such a scenario, how will the local populace not feel disempowered? Why will the youth of Ladakh vote when they have only suffered for want of basic amenities?”

About his party’s plans, Faesal said: “We want to set up a bipartisan developmental planning board so that the aspirations of the people of all regions are fulfilled. The board will decide the amount of developmental funds to be released to each region.

By doing this, the politicians will be kept out of the loop and would not hamper/favour the development in a specific area. As far as corruption is concerned, which is a very serious issue in Jammu and Kashmir, we will provide the state accountability commission suo-moto powers so that it can investigate complaints against senior-most officers as well. We will also try to change the way the members and chairmen of the recruitment agencies, including JKPSC and SSRB, are appointed via bipartisan method, in a bid to ensure that the aspirants do not feel cheated and ensure transparency”.

“JKPM will try to create jobs in Jammu by way of industrial development and industrialisation. Jammu can be the engine that runs the state as the region. We will construct tertiary-care hospitals and super-specialty hospitals in every district”.

“We need to acknowledge issues of all regions. Kashmir has been suffering since a long time and we need to understand what the people want. We need to sit, talk and resolve these issues as Kashmiris are our brethren.

Jammu people need to think that Kashmiris are their brothers and vice-versa,” he said, adding that JKPM “will provide political representation to people of all underrepresented communities, which will help in building the state and making the general public feel that it is them who are in power”. “We want to give out the message of justice. We want to deepen democracy across Jammu and Kashmir.

We want to show the people what real development is. It is not only the construction of bridges and roads, but changing the mindset of people, ensuring intellectual development, acquiring patents, moving ahead on artificial intelligence, increase in hi-tech industries, bringing more women into the fold of politics, bureaucracy and high-level institutions”.

JKPM patron, Javed Mustafa Mir, said, “JKPM does not need anything but the help and support of the common masses. It is the party where the common man is the leader and all of us follow him. We want to ensure equitable development of all five regions of the state, including Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley, as per the aspirations and needs of the people.”