Former anti-poll activist, Shiv Sena loyalist, physiotherapist, all in poll fray
An Independent candidate from Srinagar, where National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and 11 others are in fray, Dar is also the youngest contestant in the region.Updated: Apr 10, 2019 09:20 IST
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A former anti-election campaigner, Shiv Sena loyalist, non-Kashmiri constitutional expert and a woman entrepreneur are among 39 candidates in fray for the three Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir region.
Sajjad Ahmad Dar, 30, who was once a campaigner of election boycott, is today wooing youths to put their “own man into the system”. An Independent candidate from Srinagar, where National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and 11 others are in fray, Dar is also the youngest contestant in the region.
“In the last assembly elections in 2014, I spent 14 days in custody for campaigning for election boycott. I was then branded anti-national, though I had constitutional and democratic rights to protest peacefully. Now, I have realised that we should fight within the system,” said Dar, a resident of Kulgam in south Kashmir.
Although he has mentioned Class 12 as his educational qualification in the affidavit, Dar claimed he was a graduate and had misplaced his certificate. He has been teaching in a coaching centre and banking on his 10,000 current and former students for support.
“I can surprise Farooq Abdullah, who was elected to the Lok Sabha with just 7% of polling in a by-election. The remaining 93% did not vote as they didn’t have an option. This time a youth has given them some hope,” he added.
Budgam resident Abdul Khaliq Bhat, 40, has filed his nomination papers from Srinagar as a candidate of Shiv Sena, although there is negligible support for the right wing party in Kashmir. But this has not deterred him from campaigning among a select group of people.
Bhat, who claims that his brother was killed by militants in 1994, banks on migrant Kashmiri Pandits and promises security to families of policemen who have been fighting militants. “When there is Shiv Sena, the families of policemen need not to fear anybody. I also request Pandit families to vote for me,” he said while sitting in a highly secured hotel in Srinagar.
Holding NC, PDP and Congress leaders “responsible” for the deterioration in Kashmir situation, Bhat said they should be sent to jail.
Down south in Anantnag constituency, apart from People Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, Ridwana Sanam, 39, is the only woman candidate.
A greenhorn in electoral politics, Sanam, managing director of a physiotherapy centre, is from a political family. She is among 18 candidates fighting from the constituency.
Sanam said she would give tough competition to Mehbooba Mufti, state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir and National Conference candidate Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi. “Common people don’t like Mehbooba as her government was a failure. I think people want to give me a chance because I come with no past baggage,” she said sounding confident.
Sanam decided to take a plunge into politics following harassment of Kashmiris in rest of the country after the Pulwama attack. “My cousin was in jail for 15 days in Dehradun on false charges. And I think there is no honest voice from south Kashmir in parliament. I am from grass roots, have good communication skills and can raise my voice for my people,” she said, appealing to youth and women to come forward and make their voice heard.
Shams Khwaja, 57, raised a lot of traction on social media for filing his nomination papers from Anantnag. A Delhi resident, Khwaja has done LLM from Jamia Milia Islamia. He claims to be a constitutional expert and a Supreme Court (SC) lawyer. His affidavit mentions that he has taken a loan of Rs 2 crore from his brother, wife and three friends.
Khwaja said there were attempts to “sabotage” his nomination but he managed to file his papers. The SC lawyer said he had been to Kashmir five times in the past 50 years. However, he knew nobody when he landed in Anantnag seven days back, Khwaja added.
He said he would work on three fundamental aspects — making people aware what the constitution of India promises, ensuring izzat (respect) from security forces to Kashmiri people and fulfilling promise of right to self determination.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla, National Panthers Party candidate Jahangir Khan,46, does not possess a PAN card, land or a house. He has been living in his father’s house and has so far fought elections four times without any success.
This time he is pitched against nine candidates, including NC veteran Mohammad Akbar Lone and PDP candidate Abdual Qayoom Wani.
“I will bring out youth from jails, work against unemployment and defend Articles 370 and 35 A,” he said. He, however, lamented that district officers were not providing him voters list of his constituency.
The three Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir valley will go to polls in five phases. In the first phase, polling will be held in Baramulla on April 11. In phase two, voting will be held in Srinagar on April 18.
Anantnag will vote in three phases on April 23, 29 and May 6 for security concerns.
Sajjad Ahmad Dar, 30 a former anti-election campaigner Srinagar
Abdul Khaliq Bhat, 40, Shiv Sena loyalist Srinagar
Ridwana Sanam, 39 physiotherapy centre MD Anantnag
Shams Khwaja, 57 Constitution expert from Delhi Anantnag
First Published: Apr 10, 2019 09:20 IST