Bhaderwah: Hindu Majority village in Bhanderwah town of Jammu and Kashmir has set an example of communal harmony by electing a Muslim as their ‘Panch’ unopposed in the ongoing nine-phased Panchayat elections.
Chowdhary Mohammad Hussain (54) is from a cattle rearers community, has been elected as the Panch of Bhelan-Kharothi village of Hanga Panchayat.
Hussain’s family is the only Muslim family in the village of 450 residents. He has four daughters and all are married, five sons, a daughter-in-law and a wife.
A local resident Duni Chand said, “This may seem bizarre in a polarised and communally driven society, but we take pride in our shared brotherhood.”
He further said that Hussain was the unanimous choice of his village which wanted to set out an example for peaceful coexistence and brotherhood.
Chand said, “The narrative of polarisation and division on the name of religion has not taken away our belief that we are part of the same family. If it has not destroyed our cohesion over the period, it won’t now.”
He said that villagers expressed their faith in Hussain with the objective to spread a message of communal harmony to the country from this remote region of Jammu and Kashmir.
“No doubt Hussain is capable of handling village issues, but we chose him to set an example in the society and show Hussain that he should not feel isolated,” said Chand.
The youth of the village are also very happy over the decision and feeling proud of being the native of this place.
“I am feeling fortunate to be born in the village, where my elders have taken a bold decision given the prevailing situation. I hope the society as a whole will take a lesson from the decision of our elders and isolate the elements bent upon to disturb the mutual trust and faith to save the country,” said Harsh Singh (24), a postgraduate student.
The decision has made Hussain speechless and emotional, but he is committed to working round the clock for the welfare of the villagers.
“We have been living in complete harmony and they never let me feel that I am the only Muslim living in their village and by making me their Panch that too unopposed has taken their love and faith to a different level, for which I will be indebted to them for the rest of my life,” said Hussain.
The Panchayat polls started on November 17 and are scheduled to end on December 11.
Hussain’s Hanga Panchayat went to polls in the seventh phase on December 4.