Srinagar, Jul 13: The Jammu Kashmir’s Panchayat body is apprehended that political parties may politicise the panchayat elections in the state that could land them in trouble.
The State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor N N Vohra on Thursday reversed the PDP-BJP government’s controversial decision of indirect election for Sarpanchs and amended the law to facilitate direction election for the village body heads.
The SAC amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act-1989 to pave way for direct election of Sarpanchs.
Welcoming the amendment, All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, Chairman Shafiq Ahmad Mir said that that PDP-BJP government had eroded the democratic institution.
“It is not a political institution. We have nothing to do with politics. Ours is a community institution,” Mir told KNS.
He said that they were ready to participate in panchayat elections. “Government has to decide the date. But all political parties should stay away from it,” he said.
Earlier, the PDP-BJP government had announced that panchayat polls would be held from February 15. After failing to improve the situation, the alliance partners “mutually agreed” that delaying the polls was necessary to avoid deteriorating the situation ahead of the 2018 summer.
The panchayat body believes that government will put them in “great threat” if political parties again use them for “political gains” and link panchayat elections with the Kashmir issue.
He apprehended that political parties make politicise panchayat polls. “They did it last time following which many of our people got killed. We have no political affiliation. The panchayat body is to resolve the local issues of people. They (political parties) should not politicize it,” he said.
In 2011, people largely participated in panchayat polls as it was meant for local governance of rural areas in Jammu and Kashmir. After the elections, some pro-India politicians branded it as a referendum of the Kashmir issue. What followed were a string threats and attacks on panchs and sarpanchs.
“We don’t require any security. We are not fighting against anybody. We are not against anybody,” Mir said.
Elections to Panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years. During previous Panchayat elections, there were 4098 Sarpanch and 29,402 Panch constituencies.
Between 2011 and 2015, the government has said that 10 Sarpanches were killed and three injured by gunmen in the valley while 20 resigned following threats from militant outfits. “Six Sarpanches were killed and three injured in Baramulla district, while three were killed and two injured in Pulwama. One Sarpanch was killed and one injured in Shopian,” former Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Haq Khan had said.
The United Jihad Council had issued threats to Panchayat representatives in 2013, saying they were being used as “tool by Indian agencies”. After which many Panchayat representatives also resigned. (KNS)