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Political party that claims to be a ‘Kashmiri Pandit’ party floated to fight assembly polls for the first time

Many have raised questions, however, whether this party that is to be formed would truly represent the interests of the Kashmiri Pandit community.

A political party- Kashmiri Pandit Political Action Committee (KPPAC) has been floated headed by Supreme Court’s senior advocate Ashok Bhan to fight for justice and rehabilitation of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits community. As per a report in Rising Kashmir, Ashok Bhan was once a Congress leader.

A photograph of Ashok Bhan being close to Congress also surfaced on social media.

Ashok Bhan on stage with Congress leaders

The organisation has started a membership drive across the country to garner support for their party. As per the report, the KPPAC is all set to field candidates in many constituencies in the upcoming assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the first time that a political party will claim to represent the Kashmiri Pandit community that was forced into exile.

“We are planning to field candidates in the polls. We are also seeking alliance from other political parties. Most political parties in J&K are not behaving in a humane manner. We will be fielding the candidates from KPPAC platform. Throwing candies and freebies to gain electoral victory is unacceptable. We are humans and we demand to be treated with dignity,” said Satish Mahaldar, Vice President, KPPAC.

Revealing more about the membership drive, Mahaldar divulged, “The enrolment process is already underway. We are also looking for allies and partners within Kashmir. Not just Kashmiri Pandits but people from Ladakh, Kashmiri Muslims, Sikhs and others as well are also invited to join our party. We are fighting for justice and that has to be the political ideology. We will be fighting for all communities in Kashmir.” Mahaldar also said that the justice hadn’t be served to any community in Kashmir and exhorted his brethren from Kashmir to support his party.

Many have raised questions, however, whether this party that is to be formed would truly represent the interests of the Kashmiri Pandit community. The founder of the political party, Ashok Bhan, is said to be close to the Hurriyat and the Kashmiri Hindu community has raised an alarm about Bhan’s intention on trying to represent the entire Kashmiri Pandit community.

Ashok Bhan with Hurriyat separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

This picture of Ashok Bhan with separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is from 2017 when Bhan called upon Farooq to ‘discuss the political situation’ after he resumed his practice in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2015, the Congress leader Ashok Bhan was all set to join PDP, as reported by Greater Kashmir.

In 2014, Ashok Bhan supported the NC and Hurriyat’s call to postpone Assembly elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir while even Congress and PDP were in favour of getting a new government in place.

It is notable here that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is been under president’s rule. The state government had fallen in June last year after BJP withdrew its support from Mehbooba Mufti citing differences. After six months of governor’s rule, the state went under president’s rule in December last year.

Editor’s note: this article has been edited to reflect new information that came to light about the proposed political party and its founder, Ashok Bhan. 

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