New Delhi: Chowdhary Mohammad Hussain has been elected unopposed as the Panch of Bhelan-Kharothi village of Jammu and Kashmir. A Hindu-majority village has set an example by electing only Muslim family as their Panch in the ongoing nine-phased Panchayat polls.Also Read - Major Crackdown: No Passport Security Clearance & Govt Jobs to Stone Pelters in J&K

Chowdhary Mohammad Hussain (54), a Gujjar from a family of cattle rearers, is the only Muslim family in the 450-odd residents of the village. He is living with his wife, five sons, and a daughter-in-law and has married off all his four daughters. Also Read - Pulwama Attack Conspirator & JeM Chief Masood Azhar's Kin Killed in J&K Encounter

“This may seem bizarre in a polarised and communally driven society today, but we take pride in our shared brotherhood,” a local resident, Duni Chand (57), told PTI. Also Read - Jammu and Kashmir Lockdown: Resumption of Physical Hearing of Court Cases in J&K, Ladakh from August 2

He said Hussain was the unanimous choice of his community which wanted to set a precedent for harmonious coexistence and espouses brotherhood which is the strength of the country.

The unanimous decision of the villagers has not only made Hussain emotional but upbeat to work 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,” Hussain said.

He said he would not only try his best to live up to their expectations but would surely go an extra mile to do whatever possible.

“This is the only way, I can repay their favour,” he said. He said road connectivity to the village would be his topmost priority.

The nine-phased Panchayat polls started on November 17 and are scheduled to end on December 11. Panchayat Hanga of Bhadarwah block went to polls in the seventh phase on December 4.

6,304 candidates are in the fray for 331 sarpanch and 2007 panch seats in Phase-VIII, while 43 sarpanch and 681 panch have been elected unopposed in this phase.

Both the NC and the PDP boycotted the panchayat polls, demanding that the Center cleared its stand on Article 35 (A). Governor Satyapal Malik reportedly spoke to the two parties that it wasn’t the “right time” to take this position vis-a-vis Article 35A or Article 370, said a report.