Kashmir Vindicates Its Secular Tradition, Elects 3 Sikhs To DDC

by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: In a first, three Sikh candidates won from three remote areas of Kashmir in the District Development Council (DDC) elections. While two of them won from the Tral (Pulwama), another candidate is a 30-year-old woman posted her victory from Dangiwacha (Rafiabad) in north Kashmir.

Parmeet Kour

Parmeet Kour contesting on a Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) ticket from Rafiabad DDC segment defeated Tasleem Akhter of the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party by 96 votes. Rafiabad is the ancestral belt of JKAP founder.

While Kour polled 1412, her opponent Akhtar could only manage 1316 votes. The constituency was reserved for women in the district.

“I am elated that people from all communities voted for me,” Parmeet Kour, a mother of three, said. “I am thankful to JKPC for showing confidence in me. This isn’t my victory but it belongs to people.”

She said she is happy that people reposed their faith on a Sikh girl who went out to seek votes from them.

JKPC Chairman and PAGD Spokesperson Sajad Lone while congratulating Kour wrote on his Twitter, “Parmeet Kour of @jkpc wins Rafiabad DDC seat. My profound congratulations to Miss Parmeet Kour and to the secular traditions of our region.”

In Tral DDC segment, the Peoples Democratic Party’s Dr Harbakash Singh Sassan defeated Congress party’s Trilok Singh by 980 votes.

PDP’s Dr Harbakash Singh with supporters after he won Tral DDC seat. Pic: Social Media

Harbakash received 1,452 votes while his rival Trilok managed to get just 470 votes. He said his victory is an answer to those who were communalising the Sikh vote in Tral region by claiming that it belonged to the BJP.

“Sikh vote in my constituency is less. The vote I garnered here is from the majority community,” he said, adding that his winning bolsters the “fact” that an able person from any community can win on majority community votes.

Harbakash is a resident of Kavil hamlet of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Kavil has a population of around 350 people and his family is the only one living there for more than 100 years.

Harbakash started his political career as a student and was provincial president of NSUI Kashmir for many years. He also served as youth general secretary in Congress and finally moved to the PDP. He later served as a PRO to then cabinet minister and PDP leader Nayeem Akhkter for four years during the PDP-BJP government.

Singh said he contested elections to prove that the regional mainstream parties haven’t been wiped out in Kashmir which the BJP led central government has been claiming.

“I am thankful that the party showed confidence in me. Our fight winning on the ground proves that regional parties are still relevant to Jammu and Kashmir.” He said the amity among communities is the reminiscence of “Kashmiriyat” which led to his victory.

Another Sikh candidate, Avtar Singh, won against BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur from the Dadsara constituency of Tral.

Avtar Singh

While Singh, an independent candidate, received 246 votes, his close competitor was Ali Mohammad Bhat from the National Conference. Altaf Thakur of the BJP was a distant third.

Earlier a Kashmiri Pandit Chaman Lal, fighting independently was elected as Sarpanch from restive Shopian’s Zainpora. He lives in Jammu and could not even travel to Kashmir for campaigning after his wife’s death last month.

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