Concerned by the appearance of posters threatening panchayat members with dire consequences for being "government agents", the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) today demanded that proper steps be taken to ensure the safety of the members of local bodies.
"J-K government must take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of panchayat members," Anil Sharma, the AJKPC General Secretary, said on Sataurday.
"Panchayat members are not scared by any threats and would continue to work for democracy, but the state government must be careful to avoid any loss of human life that is our concern," he said.
Raising a fresh call for greater empowerment of the panchayats, Sharma said that one of the factors which had led to threats being issued against panchayat members was their lack of autonomy, as it made them vulnerable.
"If elected village heads are legally competent and authorised then, the general masses would serve as their security shield and protect them.
"But, in the present scenario and due to a weak Panchayati Raj Act, elected village heads are rendered helpless and being made easy targets for anti-national elements", he added.
Posters appeared yesterday in Pulwama district of south Kashmir asking elected panches and sarpanches to quit functioning. The posters bearing the threats described panchayat members as being the "agents of the government of India".
However, police is yet to confirm the veracity of the posters. Sharma also appealed to the panches and sarpanches against succumbing to the threats and resigning from their posts.
AJKPC has been pressuring J-K government over its demand for the implementation of the 73rd Amendment Act for strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the state.