Shehla Rashid Shora

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Shehla Rashid Shora
Shehla Rashid Shora.jpg
Native name Shehla Rashid Shora
Born Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Nationality Indian
Education National Institute of Technology, Srinagar
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Occupation Student
Organization All India Students Association (AISA)

Shehla Rashid Shora is a Ph.D. student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and was vice-president of the students union (JNUSU) in 2015-16.[1][2][3] She was a member of the All India Students Association (AISA). Shora came into the limelight after the JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on charges of sedition over the JNU sedition controversy in February 2016, leading the student agitation calling for the release of Kumar, Umar Khalid, and others.[4][5][6]

She is vocal about the human rights situation in Kashmir, particularly for ensuring justice to minor undertrials and has been active since 2010 when she was part of organising a youth leadership programme in Kashmir.[7] She played a leading role in visualising the Occupy UGC movement and pioneering the decision to "camp" at UGC for fellowships.[8] She led the protests to Ministry of Human Resources Development to ask for an increase in graduate student stipends.[9][10][11]

Life and education[edit]

Shehla Rashid Shora was born in the old city of Srinagar in the Habba Kadal locality.[12]

Shora studied computer engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar[12] and participated in a ten-week certificate programme in political leadership at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. After graduating from NIT Srinagar she worked as a software engineer with HCL Technologies. She raised the issues of juvenile justice and acid attacks on women in Kashmir but "the political space there [was] too restricted." Eventually, she joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University, completing an M.A. in sociology and then studying for an MPhil in Law and Governance.[13] Speaking at the India Today Conclave in March 2016, Shora said that she grew up watching a "very violent image of India" but JNU gave her democratic space.[14]

Activism[edit]

Kashmir[edit]

She is one of the few Kashmiri women who are vocal about the human rights situation in Kashmir, particularly for ensuring justice to minor undertrials and has been active since 2010 when she was part of organising a youth leadership programme in Kashmir.[7] She participated in a seminar asking to change internet harassment laws.[15][16][17] In 2013, when Pragaash, an all-girls' band composed of young Muslim women, faced online harassment and death threats from Islamic conservatives in Kashmir, she came out vocally in support of the band and condemned the online abuse and threats directed at them.[18][19] She said an interview to the Times of India: "They may quit because of intolerance, rape and murder threats, because of our selectively conservative and hypocritical worldview, because men can issue rape threats to women and no one would call it unIslamic, because men can pinch our butts in the bus and no one would speak up, because men can jack off to item numbers in private but three innocent girls performing in perfectly modest clothing outrages our so-called morality". She launched a counter online campaign 'I support Pragaash, Kashmir's first all-girls' rock band' to mobilise support for the girls.[20]

Delhi[edit]

Shora unsuccessfully contested the election for the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment in 2014.[21]

In September 2015, she contested the election for vice-present of the JNU student union, as the nominee of the Left-backed All India Students Association, and won it, beating the ABVP's candidate Valentina Brahma by over 200 votes. She was the first Kashmiri girl to win a student union election at the JNU and the highest polled candidate of that year.[22] She said that there was enough space to articulate her political spirit at the JNU. However, her challenge was to "convince voters in favour of a Kashmir woman from a non-political background."[23]

Shehla Rashid (left) being interviewed by NDTV during the Yuva Hunkar Rally at Parliament Street, New Delhi, India.

Soon after getting elected, Shora condemned the ban on student politics at the Kashmir University. She said that, if ideas are suppressed, they would resurface in "undesirable ways."[24] In October 2015, she led a protest against the University Grants Commission (UGC) decision to cut student scholarships for MPhil and PhD students except for those that passed the `national eligibility test'. Under the banner "Occupy UGC," students from the JNU were joined by those from the Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia and the Ambedkar University Delhi in protests outside the UGC for over a month.[25][26] She is said to have ironed out the divergences between the AISA and the JNUSU and turned into the "face of the movement."[13]

In February 2016, Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU students' union, was arrested on sedition charges. Several other student leaders were charged with sedition, including the general secretary Rama Naga and a former president, Ashutosh Kumar. Shehla Rashid ran the union during the interim period as she was the only office bearer not facing charges.[4][27] Over 4,000 people joined her in a protest march on the JNU campus on 14 February led by her.[28][29] On 18 February 2016, around 10,000[30][12] people joined a march in defence of JNU through the streets of Delhi, on Shehla Rashid Shora's call. On 2 March, she led a protest march to the Parliament, demanding the repeal of the sedition law. The protesters also called for the enactment of a `Rohith Act' for ending caste-based discrimination in educational institutions. The protest was joined by students and teachers from universities across Delhi as well as the families of Rohith Vemula and Umar Khalid.[31]

Controversies[edit]

Aligarh Muslim University Student Union (AMUSU) filled a First Information Report (FIR) against Shehla Rashid Shora for allegedly disrespecting and passing objectionable remarks about Muhammad. The FIR was filed by AMUSU Cabinet member Ghazala Ahmad on 9 January 2017 after Shehla had put up a Facebook post in which she had allegedly used objectionable remarks about the Prophet of Islam.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Voice from Valley leads JNU narrative, TOI, 8 Mar 2016.
  2. ^ ‘Student Movements Will Be Deathbed Of RSS Agenda’, Outlook, 29 Feb 2016.
  3. ^ JNU Crackdown: 4 powerful voices you can't ignore, Daily O, 17 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b JNUSU, in Kanhaiya's absence: Shehla holds the fort with Rama, Saurabh charts his own path, The Indian Express, 29 February 2016.
  5. ^ Shehla Rashid has found a political lexicon at JNU, Business Standard, 12 Mar 2016.
  6. ^ Cornered on the Left: Questioning JNU student leader Shehla Rashid, Hindustan Times, 14 Mar 2016.
  7. ^ a b Spreading wings in the Valley, The Hindu Business Line, 15 December 2011.
  8. ^ Students plan all night sit-in to protest scrapping of non-Net fellowship, Zee News India, 22 October 2015.
  9. ^ ‘Occupy UGC’ protest knocks at MHRD doors, The Hindu, 6 November 2015.
  10. ^ UGC fellowship: Students get a say in review panel, Times of India, 5 November 2015.
  11. ^ Occupy UGC: Students protest outside HRD Ministry, start postcard campaign, The Economic Times, 13 Jan 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Jeelani, Gulam (20 February 2016). "Shehla Rashid, firebrand Kashmiri, leading JNU students' fightback". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 18 February 2018. 
  13. ^ a b Meet Shehla Rashid, the firebrand JNU leader, Rediff News, 17 March 2016.
  14. ^ It's a direct fight against dictatorship: Kanhaiya Kumar, The Indian Express, 18 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Researchers see need to change Internet laws". The Hindu. 13 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Shehla Rashid on Section 66A New Guidelines". YouTube. 18 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "It's not just the government which misuses Section 66A". Firstpost. 26 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Kashmir girl group forced to disband". India Today. February 2013. 
  19. ^ "After online threats, Kashmir's first all-girls rock band may fall silent". Hindustan Times. 2 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "After online threats, Rock on, says CM to Kashmir's first all-girl band". Times of India. 3 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "Student election to JNU gender panel begins". The Hindu. 30 March 2014. 
  22. ^ ‘Student activism has been crushed in Kashmir’, The Hindu, 15 September 2015
  23. ^ Shehla Rashid becomes first Kashmiri girl to win JNU polls, The Times of India, 14 September 2015.
  24. ^ JNUSU leader condemns ban on student politics in Valley, India Today, 19 September 2015.
  25. ^ In Pictures: #OccupyUGC protests against scrapping of fellowships for PhD and MPhil students, Scroll.in, 22 October 2015.
  26. ^ ‘Occupy UGC’: Students march to MHRD, detained, The Statesman, 19 November 2015.
  27. ^ Kamal Mitra Chenoy, How Kanhaiya Kumar went from 'anti-national' to freedom icon, Daily O, 5 March 2016.
  28. ^ Arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar: Human chain on JNU campus as teachers demand ‘arbitrary charges’ be dropped, IE, 15 Feb 2016
  29. ^ Watch JNU Student Union VP Make A Powerful Speech Against The Arrest Of Their President, 15 Feb 2016.
  30. ^ Thousands join march in support of JNU students
  31. ^ JNU students march to parliament, Demand repeal of sedition law, The Times of India, 2 March 2016.
  32. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/amu-students-union-jnu-shehla-rashid-fir/1/884928.html

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