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Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, September 24, 2012
The killing of a deputy sarpanch in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Sunday evening has once again triggered fear among the grassroot representatives, with more than 40 panches and sarpanches considering quitting from their posts soon. Deputy sarpanch Mohammad Shafi Teli, 37, a resident of Nowpora Jageer area of Kreeri was stopped by unknown gunmen when he was on his way home. “The gunmen were carrying pistols and Teli was shot at from close range. At least two bullets were lodged in his body,” said Teli’s neighbour who reached the spot immediately after the killing.

This was the second such killing in the district after a sarpanch was killed in Baramulla’s Palhalan area two weeks ago. The killing was followed by resignations by 15 panches and sarpanches.

“We had a meeting at Baramulla town today and are planning to resign. We have not received any threat directly but the killing has left us fearful,” said Fayaz Ahmad, who was among at least 40 panches and sarpanches mulling resignations.

More than 300 grassroot representatives have resigned since panchayat elections were held in April 2011 after a gap of 30 years. The resignations have been made in the wake of threats and killings by suspected militants.

“We’ll issue notices through newspapers and distance ourselves from panchayats. There is no point continuing,” said Tahira Jan, a woman panch from Baramulla.

J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Monday that he will discuss providing security to these grassroots representatives in the next united headquarters meeting.