Dilawar Mir banks on grassroot support
DAY-OUT WITH CANDIDATE
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Rafiabad (Varmul), Dec 4: Braving chilling cold and dense fog, aged Ali Muhammad came by foot on wee hours from Ladu Ladoora, a village in upper reaches here, to the quarters of PDP candidate Muhammad Dilawar Mir, only to reaffirm his support and good wishes to him.
Like Ali, hundreds of supporters including women teamed outside the highly fortified quarters pleading to security personnel to let them in. Mir appears from the balcony and asks the personnel to let his activists in. As soon as the gates open, Mir’s activists run and jostle to shake hands with him.
“Sher-e-Rafiabad Zindabad (long live lion of Rafiabad),” they continuously shouted as Mir reciprocates by waving his hands. When Mir gets ready for campaigning, he offers tea to his supporters who don’t hesitate to sit in Mir’s room, corridor, balcony and even in the garden. Mir’s cook, Muhammad Rafiq, had a tough time to serve salt tea from a steaming Samovar as more supporters start thronging in.
“I have served over thousand cups of tea since morning,” visibly tired Rafiq said as Mir adjusted Karakul cap on his head. Before boarding his bullet-proof car, Mir kisses the Holy Qur’an and chants verses from it. He finally boarded the car as his wife, Zafrun-Nisa, wished him a safe journey.
Mir started his day from Chakla village by offering condolences to some families, probably of his supporters who died during past some weeks. Soon Mir found himself surrounded by womenfolk who showered flower petals and candies on him. Among the crowd, Noora Begum, 92, hugged and kissed Mir and passionately prayed for his victory in the elections.
“My son Dilawar has given this village life in the form of water. I have always voted for Dilawar even when he changed his parties,” Noora said as she shouted pro-Mir slogans.
Mir’s next destination was Dangiwacha where hundreds of people had gathered at Bagh-e-Firdous ground overlooking the camp of 32 Rashtriya Rifles. The army personnel manning the bunkers had a tough time to clear the road of Mir’s supporters. Finally, Mir managed to jostle through his supporters and reach the stage.
“Mir Sahib ended the reign of terror by the Special Operations Group and Army is this village. We are ready to give our blood to him, a vote can’t be a way to express gratitude to him,” said Ali Muhammad. “Even Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had to acknowledge Mir’s leadership qualities and give him a ticket. We have been sharing our grief and sorrow with Mir and he is always available for us; he is like a friend,” he added.
As Mir spoke about his achievements and future plans, the crowd cheered with claps.
Some supporters compared Mir with the great king Zainulabidin popularly known as Budshah for his penchant for development. “Mir is Budshah Sani for us. Budshah dug up the Nallah Amir Khan Canal for irrigation and navigational purposes. Mir constructed Rafiabad Kul and commissioned water schemes across the constituency. He has brought green revolution in Rafiabad,” said Abdur Rehman of Dangiwacha.
“We will vote for Mir purely for his developmental works,” he added.
Mir’s cavalcade finally proceeded towards the Dargah of Hazrat Syed Qamiruddin Bukhari at Chanam Hakhipora village. “In 2002, Mir Sahib had offered prayers at this shrine and won the elections,” said Nazir Ahmad, a villager.
On return to Dangiwacha, Mir’s cavalcade stopped after seeing activists of Awami National Conference canvassing for their candidate. However, when Mir saw the ANC senior leader Khalida Shah, he exchanged greetings with her and hugged her son, Muzaffar Shah. Pertinently, Mir had a brief stint with ANC in his early political career.
When Mir visited Ferozpora village in the evening, the villagers sang Kashmiri folk songs and danced on the streets. Mir’s security guards had a tough time in controlling the supporters, which were getting nearer to him.
At this village, Mir talked about extensive vandalization of forests in upper reaches of Rafiabad and his preservation measures. “Some people cut trees for compulsion as they have no source of livelihood. But the matter of concern is that many people loot our green gold for earning quick bucks. I have brought Rafiabad on the adventure and pilgrim tourist map. If we continue to fell the trees, no tourist will visit here and your economic condition will never be uplifted,” Mir said.
Despite a hectic day, Mir continued interaction with his activists till late night. “I fear for life of my activists. Five of my close aides have been killed during past few years. I believe they were all political killings,” Mir said as he retired to his room.
Pertinently Mir has never lost elections, except in 1987 as independent candidate. He has won elections five times from Rafiabad. However, this time Mir will have to flex muscles as there are eight candidates, including some strong ones, Abdul Ghani Vakil of Congress and Javid Dar of National Conference, in the fray. Observers here believe only thing that will see Mir through is his accomplished developmental works and personal bond with people of Rafiabad.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Dec 2008 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Dec 2008 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Dec 2008 00:00:00 IST
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