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Posted at: Feb 17, 2016, 12:28 AM; last updated: Feb 17, 2016, 12:28 AM (IST)

JNU stir’s K-connect: ‘Comrade’ Shehla

Voice of the agitation

  • In September last year, Shehla Rashid Shora was elected vice-president of the JNU Students’ Union, becoming the first Kashmiri student to win an election of the union
  • ‘Comrade’ Shehla, as she is called in several videos in which she is seen making speeches to Left-leaning gatherings, is a Kashmiri girl from Srinagar’s old city
  • It is difficult to tell when Shehla, a graduate in computer science, turned into ‘Comrade’ Shehla, an eloquentspeaker who has become the voice of the ongoing JNU stir
JNU stir’s K-connect: ‘Comrade’ Shehla
Shehla Rashid Shora at a protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 16

“They ask us what do you want azadi from, what type of azadi do you want,” ‘Comrade’ Shehla said during a post-dusk demonstration at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). “Today we will define this azadi … this entire country wants azadi from WTO, from casteism, from discriminatory laws,” she said as the crowd burst into rounds of applause.

In the 14-minute video of a speech to a crowd of protesting students, Shehla ardently took up for students, saying that they were being “punished for standing up for their rights”. 

‘Comrade’ Shehla, as she is called in several videos in which she is seen making speeches to Left-leaning gatherings, is a Kashmiri girl from Srinagar’s old city.

It is difficult to tell when Shehla Rashid Shora, a graduate from National Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science, turned into ‘Comrade’ Shehla, an eloquent speaker who has become a prominent voice of the ongoing agitation at JNU.

In September last year, Shehla contested the election for vice-president’s post of the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU). She was the nominee of the Left-backed All-India Students Association and defeated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Valentina Brahma, becoming the first Kashmiri student to win an election of the JNUSU. 

In the past week, she has emerged as the vociferous voice of the agitation that has attracted high media attention. The videos of her speech are being shared by her friends and supporters of the JNU agitation.  The university became a flashpoint following the police crackdown against its students who were accused of being part of an “anti-national” rally held on February 9 to protest the 2013 hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

The Delhi Police arrested students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar and booked him for sedition as the crackdown triggered protests inside the sprawling campus and a lockdown of university. Following the arrest of JNUSU president, union’s vice-president Shehla came under the spotlight.

One of the online forums describes her as an “engineer-turned-activist” who has worked for gender issues, human rights, juvenile justice and free speech. Shehla could not be contacted for comment as her mobile phone was switched off.  

In a latest statement issued on Monday evening by JNUSU and signed by Shehla, the union has vowed to carry forward the struggle “till the political witch-hunt of JNU students is put to an end”.

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