Even as chief minister Omar Abdullah came out praising panchayat representatives for their resilience despite attacks by gunmen, 27 more panches and sarpanches tendered their resignations before the media on Monday.
Two consecutive attacks on the panchayat representatives since Friday - killing a sarpanch and wounding a woman panch - have triggered a chain reaction in Kashmir's restive town of Sopore. Fearing for their lives, at-least 22 village representatives travelled some 50 km on Sunday to announce their resignations before media in Srinagar. And another group gave up their posts on Monday.
"We apologise to all the parties for participating in the panchayat elections. The mainstream politicians misguided us by saying that it was for local issues, then they associated it with politics of Kashmir," said Fayaz Ahmad, deputy sarpanch of Zainakote in Sopore.
Omar Abdullah, quoted by an official spokesman, blamed some 'vested interests' for the attacks but was mum over the demands of security. There was no commitment by the CM for preventing future attacks.
The representatives in Sopore have been in shock after unidentified gunmen shot dead a sarpanch Habibullah at his home on Friday. On Saturday, Zoona Begum, a woman panch, was seriously wounded after she was shot at in her neck some 2 km away from the place of Friday's incident.
"Government made false promises to us. They brought us into politics and then announced this as their achievement," said a panch of Hardshiva village in Sopore.
Ever since a record turnout of 80% voters elected some 33,000 panches and sarpanches in 2011, they have been continuously targeted by unknown gunmen, with at least four elected representatives losing their lives.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been ruling out security to "each and every" panch saying that "most parts of the state face no threat from militants".