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Killing of sarpanch triggers panic in Kashmir

Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar, Feb 26, 2013, DHNS: 1:52 IST

The latest killing of a sarpanch in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district by suspected militants has created a fresh wave of fear and panic among the grassroots level elected representatives in the valley.

Javed Ahmad Wani, sarpanch of the ruling National Conference from Kalantra Payeen, Kreeri in Baramulla, was shot dead by unidentified militants outside his house on Sunday evening. It was the fifth killing of a sarpanch in six months in the state.

Sources told Deccan Herald that panchayat members in sensitive areas of Baramulla have fled their homes in panic to avoid becoming soft targets. “Some of them have even left the valley and are camping in Jammu,” they added.

Chief spokesman of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) Ghulam
Hassan Punzoo said that he got frantic calls from dozens of frightened panchayat members of north Kashmir who told him that they are feeling scared and are under pressure from their families to disassociate themselves from Panchayat Raj Institution.

He said that around 50 panchs and sarpanchs have fled Kashmir during past two weeks due to fear.

The AJKPC last month rejected militant diktats and said that they won’t be cowed down by killing of panchayat members at the hands of militants.

However, the latest killing which came at a time when there was tension across the Kashmir valley in the aftermath of execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru has forced several of them to change their mind.

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