Chief minister Omar Abdullah said the recent killings of sarpanchs and panchs were not acts of militancy but seemed to be more of personal rivalry as there is a large section of people who don’t want them to succeed including separatists.
"Inquiries are pointing in a particular direction. What is becoming increasingly apparent is these were not militant attacks... There seems to be more of a personal rivalry," said Omar in an interview to New York Times published on October 19.
The chief minister had come under server criticism for the failure of the state to provide security to elected panchs and sarpanchs who had threatened to resign. A delegation of sarpanchs and panchs had also called on Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on the issue.
The government had initially put the finger of suspicion on militants for these attacks. The interviewer had asked his reaction about the killing of panch and sarpanch in Nowapora Jagir area in Baramullah district, which has a long history of militancy.
"It’s important to understand that there is a large section of people that don’t want these panches and sarpanches to succeed. Among them, first and foremost, are the separatists, because they’ve made an issue out of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, across the board, whether Parliament or assembly or otherwise."
"The people who they defeated in the election obviously don’t want to see them succeed. In fact, they would be more than happy to see them resign since there would be a by-election and they can probably come and try to win that seat."
Chief minister before calling off the elections of Block Development Council had said even MLAs and ministers (though he didn’t name them) are also not interested in holding these elections as they are not interested in empowerment and successful functioning of panchayats.
The elections to elect 30,000 panchs and sapranchs were held after about 30 years in the state, while panchayats are running successfully in other parts of the country with clear demarcation of duties between panchayat members and MLAs.
Omar said there are vested interested of both bureaucrats and politicians against empowerment of panchayats.
On being asked if there is vested interest political or bureaucratic, Omar said: "Both. You haven’t had a functioning panchayat system here for more than three decades. So an entire generation of political and administrative leadership has grown up without having to work with this group of elected representatives."
"So when you factor all that in, yes, there will be efforts made to sort of intimidate and scare and stuff like that. Now how much of that is genuine militancy and how much of it is down to a vested interest from this section of people – that remains to be seen."