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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Oct 12, 2018, 1:00 AM; last updated: Oct 12, 2018, 1:00 AM (IST)

Pandit contestant seeks to reclaim family legacy

She is kin of ex-minister PL Handoo
Pandit contestant seeks to reclaim family legacy
Security men outside at a polling station in Srinagar on Wednesday. Tribune Photo

Suhail A Shah

Anantnag, October 11

Flanked by two of her party candidates from the Devsar municipality in Kulgam district, Sheila Kaul Handoo, 62, of the BJP spent her day on Wednesday outside a polling booth of Ward No. 19 (Qazi Mohalla) waiting for the locals who had promised to come and vote for her.

However, none turned up.

Sheila is a Kashmiri Pandit from Anantnag town and is presently living in Jammu. She is a close relative of renowned National Conference leader and former minister from Anantnag late Pyare Lal Handoo.

Happy to be back at her native place, Sheila said she wanted to take care of her family legacy. “I have been meeting a lot of people in Anantnag for the past month. Many people had promised me that they will come out and vote for me. None did. There is an atmosphere of fear and they must have been scared to vote,” Sheila said.

Sheila claimed she would win the elections as she had secured more than 400 migrant votes for herself. These had been cast through postal ballot.

“But, I wanted someone from my old neighbours and friends to come out and vote for me. It would have been a blessing,” she said.

Many Kashmiri Pandits are contesting the municipal elections this time. Most of them have been elected unopposed from their temporary accommodation in Jammu. They did not even have to visit the Valley.

On the other hand, Sheila has been camping in Anantnag for the past more than a month now. “It’s not the first time I have visited the Valley like this,” she said, adding that she had contested the Assembly elections from the Devsar seat in 2008.

“I visit the Valley every year. I have been working on ground,” she said.

Sheila said it was on the party high command’s insistence that she was contesting the polls. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants us to work at the grass-roots level and serve the people.”

Sheila’s husband Shadi Lal Bhat is also in the fray from SK Colony ward in the Anantnag municipality.

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