Shopian: Thirteen Kashmiri Pandits whose identity has been kept secret are all set to win seats in Shopian town’s municipal committee without any election, as they have no opponent standing against them. All of them belong to the BJP, an election official told Kashmir Reader, and none of them lives in Shopian, the official added.
Shopian town’s 17 municipal wards will see no election as only 13 candidates filed nominations and no two of them are contesting in the same ward. That leaves four wards uncontested and 13 wards contested by only one candidate.
A senior officer who is looking after the election preparations told Kashmir Reader that these 13 candidates will be elected without any voting taking place. “They all belong to BJP and as far as my knowledge is concerned, there would be no elections as these 13 contestants have no one to oppose them,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian Owais Ahmad confirmed the number of 13 candidates to Kashmir Reader and said, “There would be no elections. If there is only a single contestant in a particular ward, then there will be no elections.”
An election officer in Pulwama district told Kashmir Reader that there are four contestants in Tral Township, there of them Independents and one from the BJP. In Awantipora town, there are three contestants, two from BJP and one Independent. Two candidates, both from BJP, are contesting in Pulwama town, and a total of four contestants are standing in Pampore.
Shopian district is the epicentre of militancy in Kashmir Valley and site of the worst violence Kashmir has seen in recent years. Encounters, militant attacks and violent public protests regularly take place in the district and have claimed the lives of about 60 persons this year. They include 24 civilians, 28 militants, and nine policemen.
Since the municipal and panchayat election dates were announced by the government, unidentified persons have tried to set ablaze half a dozen panchayat offices in the district.
Irshad Hussain, a research scholar who lives in Shopian town, said he was relieved that there were going to be no municipal elections. “Thank God that there would be no killings in the name of elections,” he said, adding that the “drama” of the elections had no takers in Kashmir.
“We want a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue, which elections would never resolve,” he said.