Panel slams government for sarpanch killing

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:50 hrs

Jammu, Feb 25 (IANS) A panel of elected panchayat members in Jammu and Kashmir Monday strongly condemned the killing of a sarpanch in Baramulla in the Kashmir Valley and held "deliberate negligence" of the state government responsible for it.

Javed Ahmad Wani of Baramulla was shot dead Sunday by suspected militants -- the fifth sarpanch killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the past six months. A total of 10 village council members, including panches and sarpanches, have been killed by militants since the May-June 2011 panchayat polls.

Leaders of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) held a meeting in Jammu Monday after which its chairman Shafiq Mir told reporters: "All these killings were caused due to the deliberate negligence of the state government which itself wants to fail the constitutional institutions so that the issue of power sharing dies once for all."

He said: "There is no institution like government in Jammu and Kashmir state and that is why the innocent elected people are dying helplessly while the so called state government seems only a mute spectator."

Mir said his panel cannot see its people dying every day and will take a final decision soon in its executive body meeting.

By not providing adequate security, "the government is deliberately making the innocent panchayat members as sacrificial lambs so that others get terrorised and submit their resignations fearing their lives", he said.

After concerns from various political parties as well as human rights organisations, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in his Republic Day address, said: "Security of panchayat members, their insurance cover and their demand for honorarium have been well taken and the state government has prepared an action plan in this regard."

This and continuing threat of militants forced over 600 elected village panches and sarpanches to resign in the state till date in different phases. There are over 33,000 elected panches and sarpanches in the state.

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