Islamabad (Anantnag), Oct 11: After north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, fresh posters have appeared in different areas of this south Kashmir district warning Sarpanchs and Panchs of “dire consequences if they do not tender their resignation forthwith.”
While threat posters had earlier appeared in Pulwama and Shopian districts, apart from Baramulla district of north Kashmir, such posters have this time been spotted in Chee and Hakhoora villages here.
In Chee village, witnesses said the posters have been pasted outside a Masjid, asking the Panchayat representatives to announce their resignation during the congregational prayers on Friday (October 12).
The posters, as per their contents, have been issued by Mutahida Squad—an amalgam of Lashkar-I-Toiba, Jaish-I-Muhammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Jamait-ul-Mujahidden. “The Panchayat representatives have been misled by the Government on the pretext of providing funds and powers. The reality is that they are mere pawns in their hands,” reads a poster. “The Panchayat representatives should immediately disassociate themselves from this exercise and show their commitment towards the freedom movement.”
The posters read: “We urge the Panchs and Sarpanchs of this area to announce their resignations during the Friday congregational prayers. Whosoever does not pay heed to this will have to pay the price.”
Reports said similar posters were spotted in Hakhoora village of Dooru.
In the past one and half year, a number of Panchayat representatives have been attacked by unidentified gunmen in Kashmir, leading to killing of four of them besides injuries to five others.
The killings forced many a Panchayat representatives to quit. While some announced their resignations on loudspeakers of Masjids, others published their resignations in local newspapers.
The issue of Panchayat representatives’ “disempowerment” and killing has snowballed into a controversy between coalition partners—
Congress and National Conference.
The issue also made it to political circles in New Delhi, with the Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid recently dismissing reports of a tiff between Rahul Gandhi and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over empowering Sarpanchs in the state.
“The Congress President and Rahul Gandhi have a very strong commitment towards the rights of Panchayats. This is a commitment that we have made to the whole country and they want it to be implemented across the country without any exception,” he said, explaining as to why Rahul was taking so much interest in the matter.
A nine-member delegation of Sarpanchs from Jammu and Kashmir had recently met Rahul in New Delhi complaining that the state government has not delegated powers to them under the Panchayati Raj Act and was treating them like "second-rate citizen".
Rahul Gandhi, during his visit to Valley on October 5, asserted that the implementation of amendments empowering Panchayats was the “prerogative of Jammu and Kashmir Government”, Putting speculations about a tiff between him and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the issue to rest, Rahul told a gathering of Panchayat members here that the “implementation of 73rd and 74th amendment of Panchayati Raj Act was the prerogative of the state government.”
“I am no one to announce implementation of amendments like 73rd and 74th here. It’s for people of Kashmir and their elected representatives to decide. The amendments are a state prerogative,” he was quoted as having said.