Backed By Police!

The contest in Doda, the epicenter of Chenab Valley, has gone interesting not because of the BJP but because of incumbent lawmaker Abdul Majid Wani, who is seeking reelection for the third time, reports R S Gull

Congress's Doda legislator Abdul Majeed Wani writing by literally making writing pad of cop's back.
Congress’s Doda legislator Abdul Majeed Wani writing with the support of cop.

Reyaz ul Haq is a resident of Mangota in Marmat. For the last one week, this NC campaigner has restricted his movement and is usually spending time around his home. “I always live with my relatives and friends,” he said. The reason: during campaigning, he received a threat from a number which he believes is from Congress. “He told me I will be killed for my activities and I am sure he was the person from our opponents,” Haq said. “The only thing I could do is to record the threat and hand it over to the party.”

Haq says his family is scared. “We live in Marmat which is a remote belt and if I am attacked here who will save me,” Haq said. “I do not know if my party has done something to protect me or to get the people arrested who issued the threat.”

Reyaz is not alone. When Majid Wani went with his cavalcade to remote Dachnam belt, a group of young men stopped him midway. They had just one request. Last time he had promised them to help make a road and it remained unfulfilled. The people had told him that had they employed rodents they would have helped them build the road but their representative being a minister could not keep his word! After argumentation for around one hour, Wani move ahead.

On his way back, he allegedly rang up Farooq, one of the key Sarpanchs in the belt and threatened him. A few minutes, he received another call – this time by Wani’s henchmen. Panicky Farooq had turned slightly intelligent and he recorded the call.

The conversation is the highest order of intimidation that a voter can get. “His men were seeking votes for money and we resisted and now see what they are doing with us,” Farooq said. “We sent an application to the police because I am genuinely terrified but I do not know if they have lodged an FIR.” A copy of the recording has been given to SP, DC and the local police station. Nobody is aware of any action, so far.

Shakti Parihar
Shakti Parihar

Rise of Wani has been a major event in the history of Chenab valley. This is making the contest very interesting this time. Wani is pitched against Najeeb Suharwardy of NC and BJP’s wealthy contractor Shakti Parhar.

But Wani’s ascend to politics has remained interesting. One of the richest men from the area, Wani contested for the first time against Najeeb Suharwardy in 2002. Then, Suharwardy was Dr Farooq Abdullah’s MoS Home. Given the scale of terror and the violations of human rights, Suhrawardy had to reap his bit.

“The situation was so grave in the district that we could not campaign,” said one of the NC followers. “Militants had to ensure that we do not win and there were a series of targeted killing of our workers.” Wani made it to the state assembly for the first time.

But to get into the contest in 2002, Wani faced a terrible crisis: he desperately needed a no objection certificate from the state owned forest corporation (SFC) to become eligible for filing his nomination. He owed Rs 1.77 crore to the corporation and a court had already given the corporation that award. Wani managed the document and the election. He later joined Congress and became a minister.

Election 2008 was slightly different. Though militancy existed in the belt, Wani was still relevant. There was the huge Azad factor that played key role for Congress to win five of the six seats that make Chenab Valley.

Now in fray for the third consecutive term, 12 years later, the Congress minister has revealed that he has moved applications for arbitration involving his three liabilities in dispute and it involves Rs 17747657. It is the same amount that he owed to the government when he jumped into politics, something that he never paid after becoming part of the government.

A matriculate and a resident of Doda’s Bharat village, Wani is a high flying man. His family still in the forest extraction business is a cosmopolitan one. However, in the affidavit he has stated that he is separated from his father’s business.

Wani has revealed he owns moveable property worth Rs 8459301 as his housewife has Rs 8 lakh in cash in kind. It includes his Fortuner and Ford Eco cars worth more than three million rupees. His immovable assets include land worth Rs 4902450, and a guest house in Srinagar’s flood-devastated Raj Bagh worth Rs 50 lakh, But his house in Nawabad Jammu is owned by his wife and it is worth Rs 50 lakh.

In a way, Wani’s stated overall worth of Rs 23361751 is slightly less than double of the dues he has disputed through court!

But Wani’s economic health has improved immensely if compared to the revelations he had made in 2008. Then he had bank deposits of Rs 25 lakh, 300 gms of gold, a Scorpio and a Santro car, besides agriculture land worth Rs 2.79 crore. Then, Wani had an FIR registered against him in police station Doda, a mention of which is missing in 2014!

Khalid Najib Suharwardy
Khalid Najib Suharwardy

An Azad loyalist, Wanis’ have relations across party lines in Chenab valley. He held roads and buildings and mechanical engineering ministries in the state which have enough of funds available for developmental activities. Last summer, he landed in a serious controversy as his junior minister accused him of misusing his position in transferring engineers.

The episode of Wani being given NoC in 2002 later led to a case in the State Accountability Commission (SAC). An investigation revealed that Wani and some officials were hand-in-glove to manage the vital document. All the characters were identified and one of the least politically connected was even placed under suspension. There has not been any follow up that would merit a mention.

But nothing of this sort is being talked about against Wani in Doda. The only thing that dominates the discourse is how Wani managed his campaign to retain the power that he has tasted since 2002. But will he retain the seat and defeat the not-so-politician-like Najeeb Suharwardy again. Or will the fight between the two become a windfall for Parihaar. PDP obviously is in the race but not in the ranking. Doda polls in the first phase on Tuesday.

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