Srinagar, June 29: Prominent Student Leader and youth activist Shehla Rashid Shora concluded her 4 day visit of Kargil district of Ladakh region where she interacted with several students, entrepreneurs and social/religious leaders. She hailed the role of people of Kargil in raising their voice against every instance of injustice. She said that, “Kargil is the land of peace. The crime rate here is nil. It is unfortunate that Kargil is referred to as a battleground, and that the people of Kargil are ignored.”
Highlighting the issues faced by the student community in Kargil, Shora said that, “It is high time that Kargil be given its own cluster university with the right to hold examinations and declare results. Students of Kargil suffer due to irregular examination schedules and delay in results. The educational institutions need serious upgradation in terms of facilities. Students suffer due to bad condition of laboratories and lack of proper classrooms. In several schools, owing to substandard construction, the buildings are at risk of collapsing and teachers are afraid to hold classes inside the buildings. The progress of society depends on the state of education. All parties and factions should unite to solve these issues.”
Shora met several entrepreneurs who are facing economic distress due to imposition of GST on apricot products, such as Apricot oil and dried apricot. Shora expressed support for the demand of removal of GST from Apricot products. She termed it an “economic sanction” on the people of Kargil district. GST has made Kargil apricot less competitive in terms of pricing. Already, there are restrictions on trade of raw apricot outside Zojila. The further imposition of GST is choking local entrepreneurs and businesses.
Shehla Rashid Shora, along with her team, and along with local activists, also visited Hundurman village near the Indo-Pak border which divides it from Brolmo village on the other side. The locals apprised her of their grievance that they are not allowed to meet their relatives and loved ones on the other side of the border. She endorsed their demand for designating a common meeting point where divided families can meet their loved ones. She termed the separation of the 15,000 families across the border as a “human tragedy.”
Shora also interacted with students who are studying in Jammu, Delhi, Pune and Bangalore, etc. and learnt about their issues. Due to lack of higher educational facilities in Kargil district, the students have to move outside for opportunities where they again suffer due to lack of support, lack of accommodation and high costs of travel. Shora expressed shock over the lack of civil aviation facilities in Kargil, and by the fact that people are weighed and transported as cargo, if they want to travel by air! She called upon the Central Government’s Ministry of Civil Aviation to open up Kargil airport for standard commercial air travel at affordable rates for students. Shehla Rashid Shora will also write to the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, on behalf of students, and will try to raise the issue in Delhi along with her colleague Mohit Pandey who was also visiting the region. Pandey, who is a former President of the JNU Students’ Union, said that, “we will try to work along with Kargil students studying in Delhi and raise this important issue with the relevant authorities.”
Shora also called upon the Central Government to focus on developmental issues such as the speedy construction of Zojila tunnel which could avoid loss of precious lives along the Zojila pass, and could ensure better connectivity. She said that, “the Modi government should stop trying to create sectarian divide between Kargil and Kashmir, and should instead focus on developmental issues for which they have been given the mandate.”
Entrepreneur and activist, Zakir Hussain Zaidi, who had invited Shehla Rashid Shora and her team members for the visit expressed dismay at the manner in which her interaction with students at the Officers’ Club, Baroo was stopped by people close to BJP in the district administration. Zaidi condemned the manner in which Kargil district administration had earlier mobilised resources for a BJP rally, and had even shared stage with BJP members. He said that, “While the DC and SSP of Kargil shared stage with BJP members and brought schoolchildren in uniforms for the BJP rally, they denied us permission for an interaction in which adult students were going to willingly participate! This is sheer double standards and it shows how BJP is murdering democracy in the region. He called upon the people of J&K to defeat BJP in every election.”