4 More Panchayat Members Quit In Sopore

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SRINAGAR: With the killing of yet another of their colleagues in the township last week, four more panchayat members in Sopore announced their resignation on Tuesday, even as their union made contesting possible Block Development Council polls contingent on “the emerging situation and the approach of the government,”

The four panchayat members, all said to belong to the Dooru hometown of the Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, announced their resignation before mediamen in Srinagar, asking for ‘forgiveness’ from the masses.

This takes the number of such resignations in the past three days to 67 following the killing of one sarpanch and a near-fatal armed attack on a female panchayat member.

“We have no value before officers and the government, and the masses view us with scorn,” foursome told the media.

“We fail to understand who is targeting panches and sarpanches, because no militant organisation has owned responsibility for the attacks,” they said.

The foursome – Mushtaq Ahmad Ganaie, Sarah Begum, Muhammad Rafiq Mir, Firdaus Ahmad Bhat – are among the seven panches in the Dooru area, and were learnt to have been nominated as no one had contested panchayat polls in the Geelani stronghold.

“The sarpach of the area lives out of Sopore,” they said. “That is why he is safe.”

 “Because of the prevailing tension, we are not safe even in our homes, and our children are fear-struck,” the woman member of the group said. “Our families advised us to quit.”

“We had joined the institution to serve the people, but were dragged into a political quagmire in which we were caught unwittingly,” the group said.  

Meanwhile,  the  Jammu and Kashmir Panch-Sarpanch United Forum said that the government had totally failed to ensure security for rural bodies’ representatives.

The Forum chief, Ghulam Nabi Mir, asked panchayat representatives not to quit, but said that his colleagues across the state still awaited chief minister Omar Abdullah keeping his promise on security.

“The state governments concerned announced relief of Rs 25 lakh each for the families of the two soldiers killed on the LoC, but the kin of slain panchayat members in J and K have not  been given a penny,” he said. 

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