In Unpredictable Kashmir, A Father Fights A Daughter

by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: Kashmir has always remained unpredictable. Nobody knows what happens when and what could be the consequence of an event. Within less than 24 hours, a reported family dispute in Srinagar has snowballed into a political “issue”.

Dr Shah Feasal and his other colleagues at the formal launch of their new political party, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Movement in Srinagar on March 17, 2019. KL Image: Shuaib Wani

The incident is linked to the family of student activist Shehla Rashid, who tried to be a politician but gave up.

Father’s Allegation

Abdul Rashid Shora, Shehla’s father, cited a “threat to his life” from his daughters and wife. In a complaint to the Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief, Dilbagh Singh, Shora insisted his daughters were carrying out “anti-national” activities and sought security cover from the police.

In a letter to the DGP, Shehla’s ‘biological’ father said he is facing threat to his life from his family members and his daughter’s security guard and has sought police intervention to gain access to his house as he was restrained in October by a Munsif court in Srinagar from entering his house following a domestic violence complaint by his family members.  He alleged that he disapproved of his daughter’s financial dealings and sought an enquiry, accusing her of receiving Rs 3 crore from people under investigation for terror funding.

https://twitter.com/IGaneshMalhotra/status/1333401847415984128

Shora has further alleged that Engineer Rashid and businessman Zahoor Watali, both currently behind bars in connection with “terror funding” case probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), offered him money to get his daughter join the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement, a party launched by former IAS officer who lately resigned from the party.

“They offered me Rs 3 crore for Shehla to join those notorious people. As I felt that the money is coming from illegal channels and shall be used for unlawful activities, I did not take the money, and later asked my daughter to not indulge in any such transactions with these people,” he has said in the letter.

Despite his objections, Shora has said Shehla went ahead with the offer, asking him to “not disclose anything” as it could put his “life in danger”.

Shehla Shora during a JNU protest.

“I have a strong belief that anti-national activities are going on in my house and the people involved in this plan are my daughters, my wife and Shehla’s security man named Sakib Ahmad, who lately threatened me with his pistol for my resistance to Shehla for her activities,” Shora alleged.

To some TV Channel, Shora has even said that he had written to RAW about his daughter’s activities as early as 2017.

Daughter Reacts

Reacting to the allegations levelled by her father, Shehla took to Twitter within hours and rebutted the allegations. She wrote that her father had been resorting to domestic violence for years and when the family decided to speak up and act against him, he resorted to such public gimmicks.  She said her father was already barred by the court from entering the house since November 17, 2020. She accused her father of derailing the judicial process and requested the public not to take him seriously.

“As we mourn the loss of a close family member, it is extremely sad that my father, Mr Abdul Rashid Shora, has chosen this time to level absolutely disgusting, baseless allegations against me, my mother and my sister,” Shehla, a vocal former vice-president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union said.

“Although this is a family matter, I am compelled to respond because the allegations made are of very serious nature. The fact of the matter is that my mother, my sister and I have filed a complaint of domestic violence with the court under which my father — who has been abusive towards us for as long as we can remember — has been restrained from entering the home on 17-11-2020. The false allegation he is making a reaction to that. My mother has tolerated abuse, violence and mental torture all her life. She has been quiet for the sake of respect of the family,” she continued. “When my sister and I were kids, we were unable to protect our mother. Now that we have started speaking up against his physical and mental abuse, he has started abusing us too. I have also filed an FIR in September. Request everyone not to take him seriously and let us mourn in peace,” Shehla added.

She later tweeted: “Many of you must have come across a video of my biological father making wild allegations against me and my mum & sis. To keep it short and straight, he’s a wife-beater and an abusive, depraved man. We finally decided to act against him, and this stunt is a reaction to that.

Not Political

“This is not a political matter, as it has been going on ever since I came to senses,” she reported, while displaying a letter to her father issued by the local Mohalla Committee in 2005 asking him not to abuse the family. Further, she said that her father had never, in his wildest dreams, imagined that his “obedient wife and timid daughters” would ever speak up against him. “One may talk endlessly about justice, but charity really does begin at home. We have finally decided to not bear abuse silently, as silence only emboldens abusers.”

Last year, Shehla quit the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM) founded by the former IAS officer Shah Faesal, of which she was also a founding member. She announced her disassociation with the party and electoral mainstream in Kashmir. Interestingly, Shah Faesal has also quit politics and his application for returning to his duty is still under process.

Shah Feasal Reacts

But Shora’s money allegation and reference to ‘notorious people’ has led Shah Faesal to react.

“As far as my name has been dragged into the family dispute of a former colleague, I want to make it clear that I have neither met nor consulted any of the terror accused persons, directly or indirectly, not to speak of seeking their support or benefitting from them,” Dr Feasal said in a tweet. “In the US also, in 2018, I have been very careful with my actions and utterances and never said anything prejudicial to the security and integrity of the country. Having been in the IAS, I am fully aware of the redlines and am very clear about where I stand,” he said.

Acknowledging the perils of public life, he said that he feels extremely sad to see his name being dragged into something with which he is not even remotely associated with. Asserting his innocence and obliviousness to what he is being dragged into, he tweeted that he will support the concerning government agencies in the impartial investigation of the allegations levelled against him. “I will be glad to go before @JKP NIA CBI ED and assist in the investigation if required,” he tweeted.

But things moving out of the bed-room usually do not stay on the streets. At a time when parties are keen to have an issue of some worth, the Shehla controversy might have come handly. After all, it has all the elements – politics, money, notorious people, drama, emotion, loss, and women. BJP leader Ravinder Raina has already alleged that the “student activist got money through hawala to foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.”

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