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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Now, woman panch shot at in Kashmir

Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, January 12, 2013
First Published: 20:54 IST(12/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:20 IST(13/1/2013)

In yet another attack on democracy, unknown gunmen targeted a woman Panch in north Kashmir's restive town of Sopore, 50 km from Srinagar.

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Police said that a woman Panch, Zoona Begum (30) was shot critically at in her neck when she was at home in Hardshiva village of the town. She has been admitted to a local hospital  and is said to be critical.

Reports said that the Panch was affiliated to the Congress. On Friday morning, a Sarpanch belonging to the same party was shot dead at his home in Bomai's Gooripora village which is just 2 km from the place where the woman was attacked on Saturday.

Earlier in south Kashmir, a 40-year-old man was kidnapped and then killed by unknown gunmen in Pulwama district.

Police said that 'some unknown militants kidnapped', Mohammad Shafi Dar, a resident of Aglar Kandi, in Pulwama on Friday. "Later the bullet ridden body of Shafi was recovered near a passenger shed in the area," a police spokesman said.

In 2011, more than 33,000 people were elected as sarpanchs and panchs, after more than three decades after a record 80 percent of voter turnout.

Since the elections, Panchs and Sarpanchs continue to be attacked, most of the time by unidentified gunmen prompting mass resignations by these representatives.

The ruling National Conference and opposition Peoples' Democratic Party have also blamed each other for attacking the panchs for "vested interests".

In November 2012, militant conglomerate united Jehad council chairman, Syed Salahuddin accused mainstream politicians of "portraying the Panchayat elections as referendum by Kashmiris for Union of India" warning that "they will continue to be targeted".

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah Omar  ruled out  security to "each and every" Panch saying that "most parts of the state face no threat from militants".

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