Kashmiri Women Joining Saffron Movement In Valley

9 November 2014

Srinagar: The BJP, a party that had no serious takers until now in the Muslim majority and conflict-torn Kashmir valley, is drawing considerable support from Kashmiri women in the run up to the assembly elections due later this month. When the BJP won the parliamentary elections with a huge majority earlier this year, some Kashmiri women supporters came out dancing and waving posters of Narendra Modi on the streets, which are generally filled with anti-India protesters. Though very cautiously, but People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti too has praised Modi in the past and given subtle indications that her party may not be entirely averse to an alliance with the BJP after the elections. More recently, Hina Bhat, 35, a dental surgeon was rewarded for her vocal and dauntless support to the party when the BJP chose her as its candidate from Amira Kadal assembly constituency. She is the only Kashmir Muslim woman to get a ticket in Jammu and Kashmir so far. The dental surgeon, who is the daughter of former MLA and MP of J&K's grand old party, the National Conference, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, quit her job at SKIMS medical college a few years ago to do social work. 'All the political parties-National conference, PDP, Congress, had failed people of J&K and never provided good governance. I had planned to contest assembly elections as an independent candidate from Amira Kadal constituency but when I discovered that Prime Minister Narendra Modi , who is the most misunderstood person in Kashmir, has better vision for the country's development and equally for the valley, I joined the party,' Hina told Times of India. 'I will prove that I have taken the right decision when the valley reaches new heights of development and progress,' she said. Hina believes that BJP's image of 'anti-Muslim' in Kashmir valley will fade due to Prime Minister's sincerity towards Kashmir. 'We should not rear an apprehension that the saffron movement will change the demography of the state. People of Kashmir need to change their mind.' Her topmost agenda is to stress for withdrawal of trivial cases against the youth and those who languish in jails for petty crimes. Hina who was working against drug abuse before she joined the BJP, recently helped the flood hit people in Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh areas, which fall in her constituency. Muzaffar Shah, a businessman, who suffered a loss of over two crores in the flood, said that Hina was the only leader who had visited the distressed people in the area. Hina is not the only woman who has come out publicly to support the controversial party in the valley. Another prominent leader Darakhshan Andrabi has merged her Left-leaning Socialistic Democratic Party (SDP) along with her hundreds of party men with the Right-wing BJP to give Modi's 'vision for development' a chance in Kashmir as well. Andrabi, who is in her 40s, may get a BJP ticket to contest from Khan Sahib in Budgam district. 'I have worked a lot for the people of that area,' she said. Though both the women are conscious of anti-India and anti-Modi feeling within the valley, yet they are not intimidated by the hostile atmosphere in which they will have to campaign for the BJP. Andrabi said: 'I never cared about the threats of separatist leaders nor will I now bother about their perception about my political activities.' Hina moves in her constituency with meagre security but Andrabi who has been in politics for quite some time now, campaigns under sufficient security cover.