Press Trust of India

Omar Abdullah assembles huge crowd in Hizbul chief’s village in Budgam

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Soibugh: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah received a rousing reception on Saturday from a large number of women when he reached this central Kashmir village, once a hotbed of terrorism, on the last day of campaign for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls.

The women at the ancestral village of Syed Salahuddin, the Pakistan-based supreme commander of proscribed terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, welcomed him with traditional ‘Wanwun’ (folk songs) to express their love for their leader, who is the National Conference (NC) candidate from the Baramulla constituency.

The cavalcade of the NC vice president was showered with candies and flower petals by the enthusiastic supporters as he moved through the village in the Budgam district.

Seeking people’s support, Abdullah said he will visit villages and interact with them to hear their issues sometime after the conclusion of the ongoing general elections.

He was on a roadshow on the last day of campaigning in the Beeerwah assembly segment which he won in the 2014 state elections.

The Baramulla parliamentary constituency is going to polls in the fifth phase on May 20. The campaign for this phase of polls ended Saturday evening.

Besides Abdullah, there are 21 other candidates in the fray including former separatist Sajad Lone, who later became a minister, former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias ‘Engineer Rashid’, who is currently lodged in the Tihar jail, and the PDP’s former Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Ahmad Mir.

As one of its residents emerged as the most wanted terrorist commander, the scene at the Soibugh village was altogether a different.

With the eruption of terrorism in the Valley in early 1990s and one of its residents emerging as the most wanted terrorist commander, the scene at the Soibugh village in previous elections was totally different than what is being seen in the 2024 polls.

Its residents, including men, women and children, danced on the road with the NC flags to welcome Abdullah, and raised slogans in his praise.

With the separatist-sponsored boycott politics a thing of past now, the people are expected to participate in the elections in large numbers to chose their favourite.

At Wahipura, with his supporters waiting, Abdullah had to come out of his car and walk into a procession.

He started his campaign from the Parimpora bypass and passed through key locations including Shariefabad, Hamdania chowk, Galwanpora, and Wadwan besides Soibgh.

“Muslims are not against any religion. We believe in a secular India and want unity in the entire country,” he told the crowd at the start of his day’s campaign.

He said his party believes in the legacy of its founder and his grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who was popularly known as “Sher-e-Kashmir”.

“We believe in the Sher-e-Kashmir’s idea of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Itehad (unity),” he said.

As his cavalcade passed through the narrow roads of Budgam, people climbed to the rooftops of their houses and other vantage points to have a look. He was seen mingling with the people.

Budgam has been the traditional bastion of the National Conference.

Abdullah, who was accompanied by the party’s Srinagar candidate and former minister Aga Syed Ruhullah, thanked the people for their love and also cautioned them against opponents who are “hand-in-glove with the BJP which deprived the people of their rights guaranteed by Article 370 of the Constitution”.

Ruhullah, in his speech to the people in Soibugh, sought support for Abdullah. “It is now your responsibility to send an honest leader like Omar to the parliament so that he can represent you there.”

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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