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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

J&K: Panches appeal jehad council to stop attacks

HT Correspondent Peerzada Ashiq , Hindustan Times  Srinagar, January 17, 2013
First Published: 18:11 IST(17/1/2013) | Last Updated: 19:05 IST(17/1/2013)

With the Jammu and Kashmir government yet to come up with a clear security mechanism for panches and sarpanches after the recent attacks, the grassroots representatives on Thursday in Srinagar appealed directly to militant organisations not to carry out any attack on them for being apolitical entities.

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"We are part of a democratic process that is only meant for empowerment and development. It has nothing to do with larger Kashmir issue," said Shafiq Mir, president of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Conference (AJKPC), in Srinagar.

Mir met senior security officials in Srinagar to push for more security cover for the panchayat representatives.

"The inspector general of police has assured us that if political parties will write to him for security of panches and sarpanches, they will provided security," Mir quoted the IGP.

Two sarpanches, including a woman, were attacked in north Kashmir last week by unidentified gunmen.

One was killed in these attacks, taking the toll of representatives killed since 2011 polls to five.

Around 34,000 representatives were elected in the polls held after three decades. They have received threats through militant outfits in the past.

"United Jihad council chief Syed Sallahudin issued a threat on November 2 last year. We appeal to him that he should reconsider his threat because he himself opted for gun in 1990 after he was not allowed to be part of democratic process," said Mir.

In his appeal, Mir reminded the militant groups that the representatives have nothing to do with politics.

"We have been elected by 90% of people. We are not politicians. We were working under block development officer and are like government employees. We should not be treated as stakeholders in Kashmir issue," said Mir.

Mir's statement has come amid fresh wave of resignation of representatives in north Kashmir, particularly the villages in and around Sopore where the recent killings took place.

Around 40 grassroots representatives have publicly resigned from their posts since the attacks.

However, the Baramulla district administration has received only one formal resignation, which is under consideration.

Ruling out any mass resignation in the face of militant threats, Mir said the representatives on Thursday pledged not to resign any more.

"Henceforth whatever the provocation we will not resign. Why should we resign? We have taken a pledge not to resign," he said.

While the police are investigating all angles, besides militancy, in the latest killings, chief minister Omar Abdullah is yet to come up with a security policy for the representatives.

In the past, the chief minister had asked security forces to increase intelligence gathering in militancy infested areas.

Besides, he had promised security on need basis to those who face a militant threat. The state government claims it has not enough men to man each representative.

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