Twenty-nine-year-old Mir Junaid from Langate is emerging as the new political voice from Kashmir. Leading a delegation of 12 panchayat leaders from Tanghadar, Junaid has been camping in the national capital meeting union ministers like Nitin Gadkari and Jitendra Singh voicing the need of ordinary Kashmiris.
Republic TV caught up with this young leader at India Islamic Centre on Wednesday morning. Dressed in a Pathan suit, this young lad declared that the time of Abdullahs and Muftis have ended in the valley. “Kashmir doesn’t need dynasts. Kashmir doesn’t need the third morcha led by Altaf Bukhari and company. They are like Ali Baba and challis chor. These are people who looted the valley. We will bring in a transparent government,” said Junaid in an interview to Republic TV.
Junaid declared that the valley will soon see a new political party in J&K Workers Party in the days to come. “We are ready to contest the elections. We have our workers in every constituency. Where were these Ali Baba and challis chor during the Block Development Council elections? Where were they during panchayat elections? It is we who fought those elections,” says Junaid.
What exactly does this mean for the valley which hasn’t seen any political activity after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A? Does this mean normalcy has returned to the valley? Can young leaders like Junaid vouch for the normalcy projected by the Centre? What is your definition of normalcy? "After the historic decision of abrogation, I used to reach Lal Chowk from my place in less than 40 minutes. Now it takes hours because of traffic. Markets are open. But please understand that there is a fear psychosis. People are under fear of being targeted by terrorists,” said the young leader.
Pakistan, Hurriyat and local political parties are responsible for the decaying of Kashmir, says Junaid. “On one hand Pakistan plans to celebrate ‘Solidarity Day’ for Kashmir and on the other hand the state of Pakistan indulges in incessant firing across the border causing colossal loss to the life and property of the people residing near the border areas like Teetwal, Tanghadar, Keran, Kupwara and Gurez area of Bandipora and various places in Baramullah district,” adding, “All three are responsible for the current state of Kashmir.”
While the government may want us to believe that the valley is limping back to normalcy, panchayat leaders say a lot has to be done to restore normalcy in the valley. “The Home Minister on the floor of the Parliament assured us that we would be given statehood. This remains our main demand,” said Junaid — an opinion that all the panchayat leaders also shared with Republic TV.
Bilal Chouhan, a young social activist, who was accompanying the delegation said, “The youth want to see real development. We come from an area which has been completely ignored by all previous governments. There is unemployment.”
Republic TV also spoke to the panchayat leaders who were upset that all leaders elected by them in the past have ignored their plight. “Even a central jail has better facilities than what we have. This third morcha that is emerging right now is a complete sham,” said Abdul Rahman Mir, Sarpanch, Tanghadar.
For the first time, a political leader from the valley has announced that the return of Kashmiri Pandits would be part of his election manifesto. ”What happened to my Kashmiri pandit brothers is simply wrong. This wrong has to be undone. Return of Kashmiri Pandits will be one of my core agenda in the party manifesto,” says Junaid.