Kashmir Indepth

Sarpanch’s killing triggers fresh fear among grassroot representatives

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

Srinagar June 9 (KINS): The killing of a Sarpanch in Anantnag district has once again triggered a fear among the grassroot representatives in Kashmir.

Ajay Pandita, a 40-year-old Kashmiri Pandit Sarpanch was killed by unidentified gunmen in Anantnag district on Monday evening.

The killing has triggered a fresh fear among Panches and Sarpanches.

“The killing of a Sarpanch clearly indicates how vulnerable we are in Kashmir in absence of security,” a Panch from south Kashmir’s Shopian district told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

“I rarely visit my constituency during the day and have not spent a single night there for over a year. People from my constituency visit me in the hotel,” he says.

Hundreds of Panches and Sarpanches like him have been put up in Srinagar hotels by the government.

Most of the people stayed away from Panchayat polls and more than 60 percent of the seats remained vacant because there were no candidates.

“We put our lives in risk by contesting in the Panchayat polls but nobody is bothered about our security. How can we review developmental works miles away from our constituencies?” a Sarpanch from Pulwama district, who too is staying at one of the Srinagar hotels, asked.

“The killing of a Sarpanch in Anantnag district has once again triggered a fear among Panches and Sarpanches. We fear for our lives,” he added.

In the Panchayat election in 2018, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) did not participate over the issue of special status. The election was largely boycotted in Kashmir and over 12,000 Panchayat seats continue to be vacant.

In Kashmir out of 20093 Panch and Sarpanch seats, only 6162 Panches and 1366 Sarpanches were elected in the polls while 12565 posts are yet to be filled.

In Jammu, 15800 Panches and 2289 Sarpanches were elected but even there as many as 166 seats have remained vacant. In Ladakh, 45 seats are vacant where 1414 Panches and 192 Sarpanches were elected.

Ever since the Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has been talking about strengthening grassroots leadership in the new Union Territories. (KINS)

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