Kashmir’s panchayat members threaten to quit if attacked

Jammu, March 23 (IANS) Members of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), a body of village representatives, have threatened to resign if the government failed to check attacks on them by militants.

“If anything untoward happens to anyone of us then all the panchayat members will quit and its responsibility will fall on the state government, particularly on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,” AJKPC Kashmir president Imtiaz Afzal Beig told reporters here Saturday.
Raising concerns over the security of panchayat members, Beig added that despite repeated requests, “the state and central governments have not taken any step to ensure security of panchayat members”.
The AJKPC provincial president said the state government was spending crores of rupees on the security of separatist leaders, but “there is no security arrangement for panchayat members”.
“Following the recent fidayeen (suicide) attack and an attack carried by militants on security forces, the panchayat members in the state, particularly in the Kashmir Valley, are terrified,” he said.
About a dozen panchayat members, including panches and sarpanches, have been killed by militants since the panchayat elections in the state in June 2011.
Threatened by militants, about 600 elected village representatives have been forced to resign till date.
There are around 33,000 elected panches and sarpanches in Jammu and Kashmir.