The Curious Case of Watergam Municipality

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By Umar Khurshid

Srinagar: There is a famous Hollywood film called The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. An American fantasy romantic film, it follows a clock that a slain soldier’s father created in such a way that it moves backward. It is about the story of Benjamin Button who was born with the physical maladies of an old man and once he reaches adulthood, he undergoes a reverse aging and dies as an infant again.

By and large, Srinagar city stayed away from polling. In picture polling staff in a relaxed mood, waiting for someone to come. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

It seems as if the Watergam assembly is also following the script of the film. Watergam municipality, following in the territorial jurisdiction of Baramulla district, has 13 wards. Four wards remained vacant because nobody sought nomination from these wards: Dangerpora (B), Anwarabad, Rehmatabad, and Gundmulraj.

From the ward of Malpora, the election officials said Mudasir Rasool, son of Ghulam Rasool Bhat contested and won the ward. He had contested independently. Then there were eight wards left, there was one nomination from each ward and there was no opposition at all. All the eight wards had representatives and were announced winners in absence of any contest.

A lady voter moving towards a polling station to cast her vote in Nowhatta Srinagar, KL image by Bilal Bahadur

After the results were over, the municipality had representatives for nine wards and four were vacant. Once the officials started looking into the finer details, they could feel Benjamin Button effect.

Barring the independent, it was a set of four people who had filed their nominations for two wards each. Relatives to each other, seemingly it was an adjustment.

Haleema Begum, wife of Gulzar Ahmed Dar, a BJP candidate won from Putpora (B), a ward reserved for women. The same woman was declared a winner from the Syed Kirmani ward, also a women reserve ward.

Gulzar Ahmed Dar, son of Mohammad Akbar Dar, also a BJP candidate won from two wards: Putpora (A) and Gund Karimkhan(A). Ghulam Hassan Dar, son of Mohammad Akber Dar, also BJP candidate was declared a winner from two wards of Danderpora (A) and Gund Karim Khan (B).

Similarly, Mehraj-ud-din Malla, son of Ghulam Mohammad Malla, also a BJP candidate won Marazigund (A) and Marazigund (B) wards without any opposition.

The cartoon by Bashir Ahmad Bashir, popularly known as BAB, in local Urdu daily

It is illegal that one person can represent the two constituencies. So the four persons will have to give up their claims from the more than one seat they have right now with them. This has brought the number of representatives in the 13-member committee to mere five.

This municipality had a maximum of its seats filled, it was just duplication of faces that reduces its effective number. Can this municipality be constituted in absence of eight ward representatives?

Deputy Kashmir Baramulla refused to give any details in this regard.

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