Twelve sarpanches and panches, including four women, resigned on Monday following alleged militant threats in the Kashmir Valley, where five local leaders of teh ruling National Conference (NC) have been killed during past six months.
More than 24 panches and sarpanches have also been shot at and wounded in the Kashmir Valley since the Panchayat elections were held in the state after more than three decades.
On Monday, through paid advertisements in local newspapers, about 12 sarpanches and panches announced their resignation and said from now onwards, they would have no association with any political organisations.
Those who resigned included Mohammad Anwar Bafand Block Pulwama ward number six, Abdul Majeed Bhat, Pulwama ward six, Abdul Ahad Lone, Pulwama ward three, Syed Gazanfar Ali, Block Kanipora ward five, Gulam Hassan Baba and his wife Jameela Banoo Pulwama ward one and five, respectively, Mohammad Yosuf Malla, Pulwama, ward four.
Others, who resigned are Sheerfa Banoo Pulwama ward one, Mehrajudin, Pulwama ward three, wife of Fayaz Ahmad Budgam ward one, Shabeen Akhtar, Pulwama ward one and wife of Rameez Rasheed Bhat Pulwama ward two.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah had recently asked the director general of police (DGP) to get all cases of attacks on sarpanches and panches investigated so that those involved are brought to book.
Law and rural development minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, sensing foul play, said police had been asked to investigate into the attacks on sarpanches and panches by unidentified gunmen in the Valley.
The resignation of sarpanches and panches started after some posters by LeT appeared in South Kashmir earlier this month asking them to resign or face attacks.
The posters asked the panches and sarpanches to resign by publishing notice in local newspapers which they have to carry in their pockets all the time.
Authorities are sensing some foul play as the empowerment of panchayats with powers of 14 vital departments, is allegedly not accepted by some people having vested interest.
A NC worker was shot dead on December 24 at Batmaloo. On February 18, gunmen killed another worker Ghulam Hassan Dar at Hajan chowk in Bandipora.
On March 30, unidentified gunmen shot dead a NC worker Ghulam Mohiuddin in Tral area of south Kashmir.
On June 15, militants shot dead a NC leader Abdul Rehman Ganie at Natipora while on June 6 gunmen attacked the house of a numberdar at Kulgam.
However, it is being alleged that some officials within the administration at village and district level are not happy with empowerment the panchayats.
The chief minister had last week given 15 days to administration to give full powers to panchayats in the state.
A number of sarpanches and panches were shot at and injured, mostly in the legs, in the Valley since the government made announcement to empower the panchayats.
Official sources said it was not immediately clear whether the posters which appeared in the valley, were actually issued by militant organisations or some other people are behind it to keep the sarpanches and panches away from day-to-day work of administration.