Jammu and Kashmir’s main opposition, Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday doubted the claims of chief minister Omar Abdullah that militants were responsible for the attacks on Panchs and Sarpanchs.
Addressing a press conference, senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh described at length "how the attack on grass root representatives will benefit the National Conference". The former deputy chief minister in the PDP-Congress government accused the ruling National Conference of sabotaging the process of empowering the Panchayats in the state.
"The assumption is that militants have been targeting Panchs and Sarpanchs. Who are these militants? There are two types of militants in the valley; one category is of pro-Pakistan militants and another is state sponsored militants,” Beigh said.
"I honestly don’t know whether Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked the Panchs or the government sponsored militants. But the question is why freedom fighters will only target these representatives in PDP constituencies," he said.
"More than militants, the needle of suspicion points towards National Conference. Hasn't Salahuddin openly associated Panchayat elections with developmental issues. Why would they attack Panchs now?," Beigh raised the queries in the press conference which stretched for over 100 minutes.
The motive of National Conference, accused Beigh, can be traced back to a public gathering organized by PDP in Srinagar immediately after Panchayat elections last year. "On our call, over 8600 people attended the conference out of the total number of 17,960 Panchs and Sarpanchs elected in Kashmir division. That means 50 percent of these representatives were inclined towards us than ruling National Conference or Congress parties,” the leader said.
"Majority of the Panchs and Sarpanchs which participated in our conference were from South Kashmir where 12 assembly constituencies belong to us out of 16. And if one can remember the warning posters started appearing in these constituencies," Beigh said.
He said that government deliberately was delaying the empowerment of Panchayats for ‘political gains’. “Panchjayat Raj is a three tier system in which first the Panchs and Sarpanchs are elected which then elect Panchayat councils followed by chairmen of district development planning boards. These boards, as per the Panchayat Raj act, have the financial, judicial and developmental powers,” Beigh informed.
“Considering that we were leading with 50 percent of these representatives, it would have been a sweep by PDP which NC did not want,” he added.