Today: Jun 19, 2024

Lone Kashmiri Pandit candidate in Anantnag-Rajouri seeks ‘justice’ for his community

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Lone Kashmiri Pandit candidate in Anantnag-Rajouri seeks ‘justice’ for his community

Jammu:  Dilip Kumar Pandita, a lone displaced Kashmiri Pandit candidate contesting on the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, is ramping up his campaign, promising to “reunite all Kashmiris through serious intra-community dialogue via civil society”.

Pandita is among 20 candidates in the fray challenging prominent figures like PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Mian Altaf Ahmad in the election slated for May 25.

Pandita (56), who hails from a small hamlet of Ramhal in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, has been living in a government accommodation in Jagti migrant township with his family for several decades.

Despite the prevailing heatwave conditions in Jammu, he is vigorously campaigning with door-to-door interactions and corner meetings in Jammu, particularly in five migrant camps to seek support of more than 35,000 voters of the community.

“We have been displaced from our homes for 35 years without getting justice. I am contesting to fight for justice for Kashmiri Pandits and to create conditions for their safe return to the valley,” Pandita told PTI at the Muthi camp.

Running as an independent candidate under the symbol of a tube-light, Pandita’s manifesto emphasises reuniting all Kashmiris, both Pandits and Muslims, through civil society dialogue. “If elected, my aim is to tackle unemployment and press the Indian government to maintain peace, and secure special employment packages for the youths of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Pandita also pledges to restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, improve benefits for PM Package employees, and push for eco-friendly schemes to boost the local economy.

The people of his native Ramhal village, currently living in Jammu, have shown their support through a ‘yagya’, urging the community to vote for him.

“We should support him so he can effectively work in his constituency. He is fighting for justice, and we should stand by him,” villager Sunil Kumar said.

“Villagers from my hamlet are performing a ‘yagya’ for my success. Kashmiri Pandits have faced severe hardships over the last 25 years. I share their pain and appeal to them to vote for me, so we can achieve victory together,” said Pandita, who is engaged in self-employment.

According to his election affidavit, Pandita has an income of Rs one lakh and assets worth Rs 17.5 lakh, with liabilities of Rs 14.7 lakh. He also faces charges related to criminal intimidation in Jammu.

The polling date for Anantnag-Rajouri was changed from May 7 to May 25. In this constituency, 18,30,294 eligible voters, including 9,30,379 males and 8,99,888 females, will decide the candidates’ fate across 2,338 polling stations.

The Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat, reshaped by the delimitation commission in 2022, now includes 18 assembly segments across Anantnag, Shopian, and Kulgam districts in south Kashmir, as well as parts of Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu.