Shehla Rashid, a former student leader at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), once a bitter critic of the BJP-led central government has has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "selfless man" working in the interest of the nation.
In an interview during the ANI Podcast with Smita Prakash, which aired on Wednesday, Shehla Rashid opened up about her turning into a PM Modi fan from a critic. She even appreciated the BJP government's handling of the Kashmir situation.
Rashid praises Modi & Shah
Shehla said, "Right now, we see a really well-intentioned administration. The Prime Minister - he doesn't care about criticism. He has taken so many radical decisions, even at the cost of his popularity. He doesn't care about criticism. He is a selfless man who works for the national interest. You look at the Home Minister - he has ensured peace in Kashmir, regardless of what anyone criticised at that time."
"Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to Srinagar told Kashmiris that it is their country and they can live and go wherever they want. These were his exact words. And we should take a moment and acknowledge that we are living through a historically very important phase. We should be lucky that we are in this country and not anywhere else in the world right now. Because there is peace, there is development and we've just overtaken our former colonizers, the United Kingdom as the fifth largest economy," she said further.
"All of those things, somebody needed to break the ice, and for that, I would like to credit the present government, especially the Prime Minister and the Home Minister," she said.
Rashid talks on Kashmir
"There have been court-martial of some army personnel who were involved in the fake encounter is it not what we were asking all along. There will be people who will say why you are saying this? They have not actually visited Kashmir recently. They have not seen the kind of change, the visible change. That's why I decided to speak out," she said.
"There are congressional committee reports in the US that will still say restore internet in Kashmir whereas the internet is in full bloom, 5G is working. But a lot of these narratives whether they are motivated they know. It is a feature of our times. It is polarisation. People do not want to acknowledge their opponents for doing good work and that is not good for democracy," she said.
"Regrets posting against army's Human Rights violations in 2019"
Regretting the post that was put out by Rashid on X in August 2019 accusing army officials of Human rights abuse, she said," I don't think it was my place to put out that information. I regret putting out that information as I did not verify it myself. Someone had given me that information not just to publish it on platforms. It was my decision to publish. It was an ill-considered decision."
"I think my information was used by anti-India forces here and abroad. These things become a truism of sorts, army rapes in Kashmir. It is a truism everybody keeps repeating, I did not check it myself and I regret putting out these tweets," she said.
Who is Shehla Rashid?
Rashid is an activist, researcher, and academician who gained prominence in 2016 for advocating the release of then JNU Students' Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on sedition charges. Recently, she made headlines for a notable shift, applauding the central government for the 'improved' situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Moreover, when asked about the reality of discrimination against Muslims in India, she said that Muslims as per academic experts classify themselves as the second largest majority instead of a minority.
Muslims are second largest majority rather than minority
"Dr Tanveer Faisal, who is a sociologist pointed out in one of his papers that the Muslims in Delhi reject the classification of minority and they say that we are the second largest majority. The Muslims as per academic experts classify themselves as the second largest majority instead of minority," Rashid said.
She said that the communalism in the country didn't come when the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to the Centre but its history can be traced 70 years back.
"Is there communalism in this country, yes. 70 years back we were partitioned on a religious basis. So we cannot say that communalism began when the BJP came in 2014. We have been partitioned on religious lines and it was a bloody partition by all accounts. There has been communalism and there will continue to be communalism. At the same time, the problem with the critical orientation is that we only focus on the negatives. We forget to celebrate the positives," she said.
"Muslims should feel lucky that they are in this country"
The activist said that India is a humongous country and there have been incidents of mob lynching and unfortunate statements made against Muslims in the past.
"Yes, they hurt you as a Muslim, but as a Muslim do we keep focusing or harping on that narrative on the negatives? I don't think so because we've lost years doing that. This is our country as much as it is anyone else's country," Shehla said.
She said that Muslims should feel lucky that they are in this country and not anywhere else in the world.