Pandit woman wins J&K panchayat elections

Pandit woman wins J&K panchayat elections

Winner gets 54 votes out of 98 polled in her constituency

A housewife, Asha Ji, was elected from the Muslim-dominated Wussan village in Baramulla district.

She is the first woman from the minority community having got elected to the panchayat. She defeated her rival candidate Sarwa Begum by 11 votes. Out of 98 votes polled in her constituency, Asha got 54 votes while her opponent Sarwah Begum got 43. One vote was rejected.

 There is no member of Pandit community from Kashmir in the state Assembly. The Pandits do not  have representation in the Omar Abdullah-led Council of Ministers also.

In the past, a noted Kashmiri Pandit leader P L Handoo from south Kashmir was a minister in Sheikh Abdullah government and later in his son Dr Farooq Abdullah’s cabinet.

Aisha told media persons that she would try her best to come up to the expectations of those who voted in favour of her.

She also felt the need for the  state government to delegate more powers to panchyats under 74 amendment to constitution.

According to Aisha, her victory would send positive messages to her community members.
An estimated two lakh Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley after outbreak of militancy in late 1980s.

Wussan village, which had 10 Kashmiri Pandit families before militancy erupted, has only five left now but Asha, a mother of two who came from Doda in Jammu region after she married Radha Krishan in 1984, says she never felt like an outsider.

Chuni Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit leader, described the victory of Aisha a step in right direction.
He stated that the state government must accept the demands of Pandits with regard to providing better living facilities in Kashmir.

“The government provided various facilities to migrants. We must be given credit for staying back in Kashmir despite the turbulent conditions. We too need facilities,”  Chuni Lal said.

Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah has also commented on micro-blogging website Twitter on the victory of Aisha and described it “a signal of hope for the Valley and Kashmiriyat.”

“We did not see whether she is a Muslim or non-Muslim as she is a good woman. We gave her preference over Muslim candidates,” Omar quoted the villagers as having said.

“Regardless of what the extremist elements of both sides want the world to believe, there is still hope for the Valley and Kashmiriyat,” the chief minister wrote.