Tough task for militant-turned-legislator

BANIHAL OCT. 5. Ex-militant and sitting legislator, Farooq Mir, may find it tough to retain his Banihal seat in Doda district. The reason: complaints of inadequate relief for the militancy-affected families which lost their kin; the inability of the Village Defence

Committees to provide security to the people; and mass-scale absenteeism of teachers in schools. Besides the interiors , the town, which is in a highly guarded zone as it falls on the National

Highway, has witnessed frequent bouts of violence

In the 1996 elections, Mr. Mir had a smooth sailing as an independent, defeating Hamidullah Khan, the high-profile Adviser to the then Governor, Krishna Rao, and the National Conference candidate, Moulvi Abdul Rashid. Later, he joined the National Conference .

Since the outbreak of militancy over a decade ago, several prominent politicians from here

have either moved to safer parts of the Jammu region or remained indoors. The Congress has fielded an old hand and former Minister, Ayub Khan. Still to make its presence felt in the Jammu region, the People's Democratic Party has fielded Bahar Ahmad Runyal. But what has made the electoral contest interesting is the entry of Sheikh Abdullah's close aide, Moulvi Abdul Rashid, as a NC rebel. Having represented the Banihal seat thrice since Sheikh Abdullah's time, he wants to avenge the `insult' of being denied the seat this time.

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