Kashmir is a dispute: Sarpanches | ‘Voting in panchayat polls wasn’t vote for India’

Srinagar, Apr 17: In what could not augur well for Government of India (GoI) and J&K government, the sarpanches Monday said Kashmir is a dispute and peoples’ participation in panchayat polls was not a vote for India.
A day-long emergency conference of at least 350 sarpanches was held here today. “In the meeting, the problems being faced by the sarpanches and panches were discussed threadbare,” said JKPC Convener and a sarpanch from Rajouri district, Shafiq Mir.
The meeting was called to discuss purported militant posters asking sarpanches and panches to resign within one week.
Shafiq said the panchayat polls were held to address local governance issues and nothing else. “The peoples’ participation in Panchayat polls was not a vote for India. GoI should stop claiming that people’s participation in the panchayat polls was a vote for India,” he said.
Asking politicians not to link panchayat polls with Kashmir issue, he said, “Kashmir is a dispute, which needs settlement. The governments should not link people’s participation in panchayat polls as vote against Kashmiri separatists”.
Meanwhile, most of the sarpanches present in the meeting sought security. “We have repeatedly raised the issue with the officials. However, our pleas are falling on deaf ears and no security cover is being provided to us,” said a sarpanch from Budgam district.
At least seven panches and sarpanches were killed since last year. Owing to these attacks, dozens of panch members have resigned.
Around 35,000 panches and sarpanches were elected last year’s polls, held after a gap of 30 years. But the process remains incomplete because the state government is yet to implement three-tier Panchayati Raj system, sparking anxiety among the representatives. They accused the legislators of being stumbling block in getting powers transferred to them. “They are not ready to share their power with us. They are our enemy,” added JKPC convenor.

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