‘Pakistani’ contesting Indian polls?

Himlayan News Service

Jammu, April 13:

An alleged Pakistani national’s candidature in India’s parliamentary elections has snowballed into a major controversy in Jammu and Kashmir. Officials said that Zulfikar Ali Rahat, who is contesting from the Poonch constituency, was not an Indian citizen. Navin Choudhary, deputy commissioner of Jammu and returning officer, said he had been told this by the deputy commissioner of Poonch. Choudhary had forwarded the findings to the Election Commission. “I am waiting for the reply of the Election Commission for further action”.

The controversy erupted yesterday when Choudhary received a complaint that Rahat, a nominee of the Samajwadi Janta Party of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, was a Pakistani who came to Jammu and Kashmir on a Pakistani passport in 1983. Rahat, currently a resident of Salva village in Poonch district, allegedly acquired a permanent resident certificate through illegal means and enrolled himself on the voters’ list. The complaint was referred to the Poonch deputy commissioner, who in turn endorsed the contents of the objection.

Rahat, however, described the development as a “conspiracy against me by my rivals”.

He said on telephone from Poonch that he had never been to Pakistan and had his ancestral property at Mendhar in Poonch district. “My father is buried in this land. I have nothing to do with Pakistan or Pakistan-administered Kashmir. I am a 100 per cent Indian,” he insisted.