Why Target Panchayats But Leave MLAs Untouched? Rural Heads Ask UJC

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“State Government Has Turned Us Into Media Show, Will Protests At PM’s Office”
Srinagar, Nov 05: Accusing the state government of having turned them into a “media show,” panchayat leaders on Monday voiced alarm over the UJC chief Syed Salahuddin’s recent statement, asking why the militant leadership had called for their resignations but never asked MLAs to quit.

At a press conference here, leaders of the All J and K Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) demanded features of the Indian Constitution’s 73rd Amendment to be incorporated in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, and threatened an agitation before the prime minister’s office in New Delhi if the central and the state governments failed to take a prompt decision on the security of panchayat members.

“We are not the paid agents of any agency,” AJKPC provincial president, Imtiyaz Ahmad, and spokesman Ghulam Hassan Panzoo, told the press. “We have no political mission, nor do we engage in any political activity. We contested panchayat elections not for politics but solely for public service.”

“No one asks for the resignation of MLAs, but we are being harassed,” they said, referring to a recent statement by the UJC chief.

“Why this friendship with them (MLAs), and grouse against us?” they said. “If they have to ask for resignations, let them start with legislators.”

Repeating their demand for security for panchayat members in high-risk areas, the duo said that the state and the central governments had shown no seriousness over this issue so far.

“We had apprised the chief minister as well as the union home minister about our security concerns, but still the issue was not addressed,” they said. “We did not get adequate security.”

“The state government has put the lives of elected panchayat representatives at risk, and turned them into a media show. We are being wrongly projected,” they said.

“The Panchayat Conference has given the state police chief, Ashok Prasad, a list of members facing high security risk. If this issue was discussed in the Unified Command as claimed by the commander of the army’s
15th Corps, the state government should have conducted a survey of areas where panchayat representatives are under threat,” they said.

Replying to a question, Panzoo said that rivalries between political parties could be one reason for the fatal attacks on panchayat members.

“Given the state of rivalries, there is ample scope for such suspicions,” he said.

The panchayat leaders threatened to hold protests before the prime minister’s office in New Delhi if the state and the central governments failed to ensure adequate security for all their colleagues in the state.

“The cavalier attitude of the state government can be gauged from the fact that our chairman, Shafiq Ahmad Mir, had given it a 24-hour deadline, but no actin has been taken by the powers-that-be,” Panzoo said.

“If our security concerns are not addressed forthwith, resignations by panchayat members will continue unabated,” he said.

“All big and small leaders of political parties, and even their minor workers, are provided personal security, but panchayat members, who have contested elections to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level, are devoid of personal protection,” he said. Observer News Service

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