11 Quit in North Kashmir After Sarpanch’s Killing

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SRINAGAR: Eleven panchayat members announced their resignation in the Tangmarg area on Monday a day after a sarpanch was gunned down in North Kashmir.

With 6 resignations in the southern Shopian district recently, the number of rural representatives quitting in the past four days has gone up to 17.

Reports also spoke of a number of panchayat members from the Valley fleeing to Jammu after the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru.

Their leaders said that the hanging had created an “adverse climate” for elected village representatives.  

Sarpanch Javed Ahmad Wani, said to have been a long-time NC worker, was killed on Sunday evening when attackers shot him at close range in his native Kalantara Payeen area of Kreeri in the Baramulla district.

The father of two kids, the 37-year-old panchayat leader, was shot several times, and breathed his last at hospital, reports said.

He was the second elected rural representative to be killed this year.

Two personal security officers (PSOs) assigned to him for protection have been suspended.

Minister of state for home, Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, who visited Wani’s home today, said that the PSOs were not with him when he was attacked.

“The circumstances under which Wani died will be thoroughly investigated, and those found responsible punished according to law,” he said.   

Meanwhile, the head of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, Shafiq Ahmad Mir, flayed the government for failing to ensure the security of village representatives.

“No one listens to our problems, and the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru has created an adverse climate for us,” Mir said

Authorities, however, denied that panchayat members faced any threat due to Guru’s hanging.

The state’s home secretary, Suresh Kumar, said that the government had received no report officially indicating any threats arising for rural representatives in the wake of the execution.

“Still, the army and the police are conducting joint patrols at night,” he said.

“But if somebody wants to go to Jammu out of his own free will, he cannot be stopped,” he said.

When contacted, the inspector general of police for Kashmir, SM Sahai, said: “No situation has arisen after Guru’s hanging that would compel panches and sarpanches to shift to Jammu.”

“But if some rural representative feels some apprehensions, he should contact the police. His or her issue will be addressed,” he said.

The minister for panchayati raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar, said that he had no reports (of panchayat leaders shifting to Jammu).

“Unofficially, we have come to know that posters had appeared in Shopian, after which some people have gone to Jammu,” the minister said.

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