Democracy at Stake in Jammu & Kashmir?

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Till one and half year ago when the Panchayats were not in place, there were only 87 people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir holding Indian constitutional flag in their hands.

These people were called MLAs (Members of Lagislative Assembly). But after the Panchayats came in to being, there are 35000 people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir who are holding Indian national flag in their hands in each village and ward of the state of Jammu and Kashmir .These people are called Panches and Sarpanches. Of them, there are 4125 Sarpanches and about 29000 Panches.

There is a lot of difference between the two elected groups leading democratic institutions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir . The former group comprising 87 members called MLAs is doing no selfless service to the nation as the members of this group take part in the democratic process only for the sake of luxurious life after being elected as Member of Assembly. They get at least one lakh salary per month each apart from other allowances given to them by the government. Not only this, they have luxurious government houses, vehicles to travel and security cover for their protection.

The story does not stop here, they have all say in the system and what not? But the later group called Panches and Sarpanches who are also legal elected leaders of the grass root democracy have nothing attractive to lure others towards institution.

Even they are not being paid a single penny for the transport charges for official works . They are not being paid a single penny for paper charges they use for official work . What they get easily in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is the bullet from anti national elements and kicks from the officials of the state government . I do not argue that why members of assembly were being paid for their work but my question is what is the fault of the other group called Panches and Sarpanches .

These 33 thousand people are present in each corner of the state holding Indian constitutional flag in their hand despite the threat to their lives from anti national and anti democracy elements. Not only threat, even three Panchayat heads have been killed by unknown gunmen in the past one year and more than 900 have resigned for after being threatened by anti national groups. However, despite this humiliation and insecurity to their own lives and family, rest of the people are still intact with the democratic institution . But unfortunately, still union government of India and state government of Jammu and Kashmir seem unmoved and no step has been taken for the security and safety of these people . I want to make it clear to the Indian nation that it should not take the killing of Panch and Sarpanch in J&K as killing of an individual . In fact, this is the killing of a democratic institution in the state.

Shafiq Mir
Convener J&K Panchayat Conference
mirshafiq@gmail.com

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