Row Over Candidate’s “Citizenship” Leaves Drugmulla DDC In Dilemma

by Pirzada Shakir

SRINAGAR: As the recently elected DDC members have started talking about issue and aspirations of people and at many places, even DDC chairpersons elected, Drugmulla constituency in Kupwara district of north Kashmir is yet to get the list of winners.

Somia Sadaf

Withheld abruptly after an objection was raised over the candidature of a woman, who actually hails from Pakistan administered Kashmir; the results were withheld, leaving both, the people and participants in a dilemma.

The decision to delay the results evoked protests in the area, but even after over a month, no decision has been taken so far. Demanding an end to the suspense, locals urge to declare the results.

As per the data available, there are 12 candidates contesting this seat. However, the issue over Somia Sadaf’s citizenship, a woman who actually hails from Pakistan administered Kashmir led to the suspension of counting.

Dejected over the delay, Somia says that there is no “logic” behind this decision. “I don’t understand why this question was not raised during my election campaign and before voting. I possess a passport of India and other documents that a citizen must possess,” Somia said.

Married to Abdul Majeed Bhat of Batergam over a decade ago, she has been living in the village since 2010.

Talking over the issue, Election Commissioner KK Sharma is quoted to have that their team is working on it and facts are being ascertained.  “It may take some time, the final decision will be taken soon,” he said.

In reply to a question that DDC chairperson elections were to be held in near future and what would be the fate of Kupwara District Development Council, Sharma said, “We are simultaneously working on both issues and decision will be taken prior to the commencement of chairperson elections.”

However, the district magistrate Kupwara Imam u din has served notice to elected DDC members of the district and asked them for meeting on February 8,  2021, to elect DDC chairperson.

Somia’s Kashmir Journey

Somia met Majeed, an ex-militant in Lahore during her college days and decided to marry. In response to the rehabilitation policy announced by the government in 2010, the couple returned to Kashmir. They settled at their native village.

Living since 2010, a mother of two, she said she has all the requisite documents including the passport. She alleges her name is being dragged into the controversy without any merit. “I am living with my family from last over a decade and this controversy is just to drag me unnecessarily,” she said.

Celebrated after she represented “progressive women entrepreneurs” from J&K in 2018, a countrywide online interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she also joined Umeed, a central government initiative to alleviate poverty among women in J&K as a mobilizer.

Somia, while referring to other women from PaK said, there are at least 5 women from PaK who are serving as Panchs and Sarpanches in different districts of Kashmir. “They even don’t possess a passport, claims Somia while asking when they can be representatives (citizens) why cannot she?”

She further claimed that she was recommended for National Award in 2018 and has also taken a subsidized loan from the government for the enhancement of Dairy farm but the latest development has left her shattered.

Similar to the Somia situation, counting was also withheld in Sonawari constituency in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district where Shazia Aslam was contesting.

Somia and Shazia are among over 150 women from PaK, who were brought via Nepal and settled in Kashmir along with their ex-militant husbands.

Officials speak

Talking to Kashmir Life, Returning Officer Kupwara, Muzaffar Ahmad Hurrah said that counting was withheld due to the participation of Somia Sadaf. “There were directions from Election Commission of J&K that votes for this constituency should not be counted till further communication as one candidate who is in fray belongs to Muzaffarabadad,” Hurrah said.

Member of Parliament, Mir Mohammad Fayaz asked why her nomination file was not scrutinized properly before the commencement of the election.

“Even if passport and other valid identity documents like Voter ID issued by competent authority are ignored by authorities what else is needed to prove the identity?”  MP Mir Fayaz asked.

He referred to the claim of the central government calling PaK as part of the Indian side of Kashmir said “the question of citizenship doesn’t arise here when the government calls PaK as part of India.”

The district administration has submitted the report to Election Commission.”We submitted a report to SEC as our office had received complaints concerning the citizenship status of contesting candidate Somia Sadaf,” said DC Kupwara Imam u Din adding that in response SEC withheld the counting process as the election on the particular seat was already held.

The final decision in this regard can be taken by the State Election Commission, said DC.

Somia didn’t submit any representation to his office, said DC Kupwara who also serves as District Election Officer. “The candidate in question should have submitted representation so that we could have proceeded the case accordingly. None of the other contesting candidates submits written representation in the office,” he said.

However, two contestants submitted a representation seeking counting on the seat without further delay. “We have submitted written representation to former DC Kupwara Anshul Garg in this regard. We have spent good money on campaigning, which is a sheer waste so far” Shabnum Rehman and Aamina Majeed two other contesting candidates said.

Shabnam further said that she had taken up the issue with KK Sharma in Jammu in January.

Sharma had told them “if Somia possesses a passport then she was entitled to be a citizen of India”, informed Mohd Ashraf who was accompanying Shabnam Lone to State Election Commissioner.

On the other hand, BJP’s contesting candidate demand a fresh election on the seat.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here