Panchayat Conference Bids To Stem Resignation Wave

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Group Gives Rural Reps One Week To Quit

SRINAGAR: The head of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, Shafiq Ahmad Mir, on Thursday urged panchayat members to desist from resigning their posts, even as the Jami’at-ul-Mujahideen gave the rural representatives one week to quit the rural self-government institution.

The development comes amid a fresh wave of resignations by panches and sarpanches sparked off by the killing of a colleague and a near-fatal attack on another in the northern township of Sopore last week.

At a press conference in Srinagar today, Mir said that panchayat members had nothing to do with the Kashmir issue, and expressed unhappiness at a recent statement issued by the chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC), Syed Salahuddin.

Mir said that Salahuddin, who is also the supreme commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, had taken to militancy only after losing elections.

“Syed Salahuddin had himself embarked on the democratic path by contesting elections in 1987, and launched an armed struggle only after not being victorious in the battle of the ballot,” he said.

“Why is Syed Salahuddin against panchayat members today when they also have taken the democratic path with the sole objective of development,” he said.

Mir said that the inspector general of the police for Kashmir had assured that panches and sarpanches would be provided security if the political parties they belonged to recommended so.

“If the panchayat institution is vested with its stipulated powers, we will not need security,” he said.

“We were elected with a ninety percent turnout,” he said. “Had powers been devolved to us, we would have performed in our respective areas, and would have been protected by the people themselves,” he said.

Even as another panchayat member submitted his resignation today, the Jami’at-ul-Mujahideen said that growing trend was “encouraging.”

“Panches and sarpanches across Kashmir will emulate their colleagues from Sopore and resign their posts,” the militant group was quoted by the KNS as having said.

“Panchayat members understand our argument, and recognise that it holds their welfare,” the JuM spokesman, Jameel Ahmad, said.

“The issue is not who becomes panch or sarpanch, but who uses them for their own vested interests, and how,” he said, describing the wave of resignations in Sopore as a “welcome trend.” 

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