Panchayati Raj Is Goonda Raj: Geelani

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SRINAGAR: Close on the heels of a militant warning to elected rural representatives, the chairman of the Hurriyat (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani, on Thursday accused the state government of unleashing goonda raj in the garb of panchayat raj.

Geelani was referring to the killing of a Jama’at-e-Islami supporter in the Gandarbal area sometime ago in a group clash over mosque loudspeakers involving an NC sarpanch who has since been arrested by the police along with nearly a score others on murder charges.

On the other hand, there have been a number of armed attacks by “unidentified gunmen” on panchayat members since their election with at least three confirmed fatalities.

The latest two such attacks, one of them fatal, were carried out in the Geelani stronghold of Sopore in north Kashmir last week where over ninety panchayat members are said to have quit since.   

Coinciding with a warning from the militant group Jami’at-ul-Mujahideen asking panchayat members to quit within one week, Geelani said that most rural representatives were bullying common people, committing atrocities on the masses, and exacting ransom just like pro-government gunmen of yore, better known as Ikhwanis.

“Actually, Ikhwan raj is being revived in the garb of panchayati raj, and lawlessness and goondagardi being promoted again,” he said.

“Close ties are being built between the Indian army and the panchayat members, and the military is using the latter for its purposes like Ikhwanis,” he said.

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