Srinagar: In what could be termed as ‘change’ in the Kashmir valley, a Kashmiri Pandit woman has won the panchayat polls for the first time.
Aisha Jee defeated her lone rival Sarwa Begum by 11 votes in Muslim-dominated Wussan village in Kunzer block on Srinagar-Gulmarg road.
Post declaration of the result, an ecstatic Aisha said, “Muslim brethren of the village voted for me and I will try to come up to their expectations provided state government delegates powers to panchyats under 74 amendment to constitution."
She went on to add, “My victory should send a clear message to the migrant Kashmiri pandits living in exile in other parts of the country that there is hope of life for them in Kashmir now."
Aisha who lives with her husband Radha Krishan and two sons in Wussan chose to stay in the valley, when most their community brethren left in early 1990s owing to the rise in militancy in Kashmir that especially targeted Kashmiri Pandits.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah endorsed her win as a signal of "hope for the Valley and Kashmiriyat".
Quoting residents, Abdullah posted on his micro blogging site: "We didn`t see whether she is a Muslim or non-Muslim as she is a nice lady. We gave her preference over Muslim candidates."
In his own comment, the Chief Minister wrote: "Regardless of what the extremist elements of both sides want the world to believe, there is still hope for the Valley and Kashmiriyat."
Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley in early 1990s when the armed separatist campaign started here against the Indian rule.