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No Kashmiri Pandits in J&K Legislative Assembly
January 01, 2009 21:45 IST
For the first time in its history, Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Legislative Assembly will not have a representative from the Kashmiri Pandit community.
"The Assembly will miss a legislator from the Pandit community for the first time since the existence of this democratic institution in Jammu and Kashmir," former MLC Bushan Lal Bhat told PTI.
All the 47 candidates from the community, including former minister Raman Mattoo, lost in the seven-phase state
assembly elections. Community organisations termed it a "setback" on the political front.
"This is another setback to the community on political front after its migration from Kashmir valley to plains of
Jammu and Delhi [Images] in 1989 due to threat of militancy in Valley," Jammu and Kashmir National United Front president A K Dewani said.
"We have lost political say now. We have already lost our homes and hearths. We also had posts in valley. We need
reconciliation at this point," All Party Migrant Coordination Committee chairman Vinod Pandit said.
"We demand that the National Conference or Congress nominate one member from our community to the assembly instead of the Legislative Council," said Pandit.
Since 1957, one or two Kashmir Pandit MLAs were in all the ten assemblies in Jammu and Kashmir. Each assembly also had a minister from the community.
All the 47 candidates from the Kashmiri Pandit community contesting in 23 constituencies in the state lost. The list includes Raman Mattoo, a minister in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government who was defeated in Habbakadal Assembly segment by Shimeema Firdos of National Conference.
Mattoo had beaten her the last time in 2002 and become a industries minister in the Congress-PDP coalition.
The 2002 assembly had one more MLA from the community -- Khem Lata Wakhloo, who won on a Congress ticket.
In 1996, only 12 Pandits were in the fray in seven constituencies in the valley and out of them P L Handoo of NC won Habbakadal seat and became a cabinet minister.
In 1987 also, Handoo won from Habbakadal and become a minister.
In 1983, Handoo of the NC and Manohar Nath Koul of Congress were elected from Pahalgam and Devsar seats respectively and became ministers.
Notable winners from the community were D P Dhar and Makhan Lal Fotedar, both of whom later became Union Ministers.
While Fotedar had won from Pahalgam in 1967 and 1972, Dhar had won from Habbakadal, a bastion of the Community, in 1957 and 1962.
Out of the 47 contestants in 2008, 43 contested in 20 constituencies of the valley while the remaining four fought
in Jammu region.
Habbakadal had highest number of 12 contestants from the community out of 21 followed by 3 each in Amirakadal, Devsar and Wachi segments.
While parties like Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Samajwadi Party, Lok Janshakti Party, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and Jammu Kashmir Democratic Party gave nominations to Pandits, both the NC and PDP fielded no one from the community this time.