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Gurgaon woman, a doctor in the making, elected sarpanch in Mewat

The MBBS student will start her internship at Civil Hospital in Gurgaon shortly and take an entrance examination for postgraduate course in medicine later, but is confident of juggling studies and grass-roots level politics

jaipur Updated: Mar 13, 2018 20:10 IST
Suresh Foujdar
Suresh Foujdar
Hindustan Times, Bharatpur
Gurgaon woman,sarpanch,Mewat
MBBS student Shahnaaz Khan after taking oath as a sarpanch in Bharatpur on Monday.(HT Photo)

The day the by-election for sarpanch of Garhazan village in Bharatpur was held, poll candidate Shahnaaz Khan was busy taking her MBBS fourth year practical examinations.

A few hours after polling on March 5, the bypoll results came in. Villagers had elected the 24-year-old medical student of Teerthanker Mahaveer Medical College and Research Center in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, as their sarpanch.

Shahnaaz is the youngest sarpanch of her village, which is in Mewat region that includes parts of Haryana and Rajasthan. She is also the most educated woman in Garhazan’s history and gets a chance to take forward her paternal grandfather’s political legacy.

“People in Mewat area don’t send their daughters to schools. I will present before them my own example to show what education can do for a woman,” Shahnaaz said after taking oath as sarpanch on Monday.

She will start her internship at Civil Hospital in Gurgaon shortly and take an entrance examination for postgraduate course in medicine later, but is confident of juggling studies and grass-roots level politics.

Shahnaaz’s was elected sarpanch after her grandfather Hanif Khan’s election in 2015 was declared null and void by a court in October last year. The court ruled Hanif Khan had forged educational qualification documents.

The Rajasthan government has made Class 10 mandatory qualification for sarpanch candidates. Hanif Khan had been sarpanch of Garhazan for 55 years.

A young and educated woman sarpanch is a change in Mewat region, which is considered among the most backward areas of Rajasthan. Mewat comprises portions of Alwar and Bharatpur districts inhabited by the Meo Muslims.

“My family is committed towards serving the people. Shahnaaz joined politics to fulfil her grandfather’s dreams. She will serve the Meo community because it is backward.”

The literacy rate in Bharatpur district is 70.1%, which is higher than the state average 66.1%, but less than the national average 74.04%. The difference in level of education of boys and girls in the district is 29.9%.

Shahnaaz said she was equipped to spread awareness about sanitation to prevent diseases in the area. “For instance, people here die of tuberculosis. The disease can be cured with a six-month course but people are unaware.”

Shahnaaz’s parents are also in politics. Her mother Zahida Khan is a former MLA from Kaman constituency in the district. Her father, Jalees Khan, was Kaman pradhan (head of block level panchayat body).

Zahida Khan said, “My family is committed towards serving the people. Shahnaaz joined politics to fulfil her grandfather’s dreams. She will serve the Meo community because it is backward.”

Shahnaaz studied in The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon, till Class 10 and did her Class 12 from Delhi Public School, Maruti Kunj.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 07:15 IST