Raja Muzaffar Bhat

Raja-Muzaffar-BhatIn the second list of its candidates for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fielded columnist-activist from the valley, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, 36, for central Kashmir against Union Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah.

Belonging to a landlord family, Bhat is the son of lawyer-turned-government servant. His grandfather had worked as DC Budgam for some time. “Yes, I am the AAP candidate against Dr Farooq Abdullah,” Dr Bhat said. “It has just been announced and AAP will be contesting five other seats as well.”

Bhat is academically a dentist and is into activism from past 10 years now.

In 2001, when he came back from Karnataka University after completing his Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS), he started a new clinic in his village Waathora. Doing private practice in his area kept him contented—his was, the first dental clinic in his area.

But he was soon seen intervening in village welfare issues. Steadily, he became a prominent face in Budgam. “This was a time when my clinic started suffering,” Bhat said. “People started approaching me for other things rather than to seek medical assistance, and I could not say no, because I knew they needed me. This is how it all started.”

In 2009, Bhat after working rigorously for four years convinced state to raise its Right to Information Act (RTI) at par with that of Centre. Though, the young activist is not satisfied with the recent amendments of the RTI Act.

Keeping his growing popularity under perspective, his friends suggested him to join politics. And then only last year, he joined PDP. Later, he parted his ways from the party by saying, “my consciousness didn’t allow me to be in politics after Afzal [Guru] was hanged.”

Since 2012, Dr Bhat has been fighting against extending the lease of Tosa Maidan to army for the use of firing training centre. Over these years, while he was researching about the place, Bhat tried to get the issue into media but said he faced disappointment. Even the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) rejected his complaint and said it is too early to comment over the lease.

And it was because of his RTI activism which propelled one of his colleagues to bust a major gang in a central Kashmir village, involving Indira Avas Yojna funds.

With his candidature from central Kashmir, the contest for upcoming parliamentary election has entered into an interesting phase.

– Bilal Handoo

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