NHRC approached for security of J&K panchayat members

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 10, 2012 10:10 hrs

Jammu, Nov 10 (IANS) A social activist from here has filed a petition before National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking directions for the Jammu and Kashmir government for providing security to panchayat members (elected village heads) in wake of militants' threat to them.

Raman Sharma, who is also a Right to Information (RTI) activist, said that he has approached the NHRC with a petition, "praying that after the open threat from Hizbul (Mujahideen) chief Syed Salahuddin, the panchayat members of the state along with their family members are under high pressure and worried about their life."

The petition addressed to the NHRC chairman is for seeking direction for the "state and the union government to ensure adequate security arrangements for the elected village representatives."

Expressing concern over the matter of threat given by Pakistan-based Salahudin who is also the chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC), Sharma in his petition has said: "If no prompt action is taken in this case, then these innocent panchayat members may succumb to the the diktat of the terror commander where he has asked them to either submit their resignation or face the consequences."

Sharma blamed both state and central government for being insincere towards this serious issue as they have not assured any sort of protection to any panchayat member.

The activist has urged the NHRC to issue necessary directions to both the government to take prompt action concerning the lives of more than 33,000 panchayat members and their family.

The Hizbul chief had in a recent interview to a media organization said: "Panches and sarpanches (heads and members of rural self-government institutions) are exploited by India to project Kashmir as pro-India, and as such, they will continue to be targeted...We call on them to resign from their posts and not allow themselves to be used to undermine the liberation movement in Kashmir."

Till now a total of 10 panchayat members have been killed by the militants in the state since polls that concluded June last year.

This and continuing threat of militants forced about 600 elected village panches and sarpanches to resign in the state till date in different phases.

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