Jammu & Kashmir

Allegations of using ‘money and muscle’ by PC surface in Handwara after Municipal Elections

Srinagar: After his term ended by being vetoed out with a no-confidence motion amid allegations of ‘violating protocol’ by People’s Conference, Masroor Ahmed Banday won by 7 out of 13 votes, reclaiming his post for the third time as the Chairperson of the Municipal committee of Handwara.

The win this time came as an independent candidate. Banday had previously held the post as a PC man.

In the aftermath of high-drama in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) where Ex-Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu lost the floor test on Tuesday when 40 corporators had moved a no-confidence resolution against him, allegations of misconduct have surfaced in Handwara too.

Banday says that yesterday, while he and his councillors stepped out after the election win, a female councillor’s husband was allegedly attacked.

Speaking to Free Press Kashmir Banday said, “as soon as we stepped out, some of the goons belonging to People’s Conference attacked one of my female councillor’s husband. He is the hospital right now, where I’m just returning from. His situation is critical. We’ve got the X-Ray, CT scan, and other things done. An FIR has been lodged against the attackers.”

“People’s Conference used their muscle and monetary power, bribing my councillors with cheques. But the people made me win 7 out of 13 seats today, after exhibiting immense courage,” he said.

“PC has a history of hooliganism and it’s a grave problem. I have the video proof where they’ve tried to bribe my councillors with cheques,” Banday said.

The attacks came after he won against People’s Conference, a party he had a fallout with, when a no-confidence motion was passed against him two months ago.

“I had been to Delhi for about 3 months,” he said, adding, “since ours is a political family and my son happens to study in the Hindu college, going to Delhi is a regular thing. During my most recent visit, I had the chance to meet several politicians across parties lines in Delhi and discussed and debated several issues with them. Some debates aired on the television as well.”

According to Banday, this didn’t seem to go down well with his colleagues and the party chairperson, Sajjad Lone allegedly prompted his councillors to pass their no-confidence motion against him.

Later as Covid-19 broke out, MHA issued a circular barring any and every socio-political and/or religious activity publicly.

As the situation became relatively better, Executive Officer Municipal Committee, Handwara wrote an application to the District Election Officer, who is also their Deputy Commissioner, and received an approval to conduct an election for the vacant post.

Banday contested as an independent candidate after the fallout with the party, and won by 7 out of 13 votes.

Accusing People’s Conference of attempting to bribe his associates to vote against him and harassing them when they refused to cooperate, he said: “my councillors were taken away in cars to far-off places to threaten them. Last night, we had to set up check posts in multiple areas. But my councillors showed immense faith in me, and have now uprooted People’s Conference from Handwara”

However, Abdul Rashid Dar, a People’s Conference worker dismisses all such allegations.

Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, he said “how can we distribute money, when we don’t have it ourselves? There is nothing like that.”

According to Dar, in the aftermath of August 5, 2019, the party workers were arrested. And upon their release, they’d come across some monetary discrepancies by Banday, ushering them to take some action.

“Upon our release, we found out corruption had happened,” he said. “People complained, and we sent a show-cause notice, thereby ousting Banday from the party. Elections were restarted, which received a boycott from everyone.”

However, a statement published in the Urdu daily Tameel-e-Irshad, dated June 15, 2020, Banday was ousted from PC over his performance and him being ‘incapable and underwhelming’.

Dar underplays the loss saying, “we have done ‘labaik’ on Modi’s call. We have trusted democracy. Winning and losing is a part of politics. Elections are also affected by personal relation in these small elections.”

A rather furious Banday, who is high on a win, remarked “you may say that People’s Conference will breathe its last very soon here in Handwara. I guess the people here have shown that someone worthy should wield the chair, someone who can handle this town well.”

 

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