Fresh militant threat instills fear, more grassroot leaders resign

Panchayat leaders in Kashmir have continued their ‘resignation’ spree through advertisements in local newspapers, days after Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin issued a fresh warning to them, even as government has denied receiving any resignations.

Around 60 panches and sarpanches have made their resignations public through paid advertisements in various local dailies here citing threat to their life.

The fresh resignations through paid advertisements have taken the total to nearly 800. However, authorities maintain that they have received only 50 resignations since the landmark elections were held last year.

Hundreds of panchayat members announced their resignations through advertisements following killing of a deputy sarpanch in Pattan area in the second week of September this year. Dozens more quit after militants issued a fresh threat in the third week of September.

“Panches and sarpanches are exploited by India to project Kashmir as pro-India, and as such they will continue to be targeted. No matter how much government tries to secure them, they will still be attacked,” Hizb chief Salahuddin told Tehelka in an interview.

Chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday ruled out providing security to each and every nearly 33,000 panches and sarpanches in the state. “We never said that we will provide security to each and every panch and sarpanch. We had said that whenever there is a threat assessment and we feel that there is need to do more, we will do that,” Abdullah said.

All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference on Monday said they would not succumb to the diktat of the Hizbul chief.

“We won’t succumb to any diktat because we are neither affiliated to any political party nor have any political agenda and are serving the people at grassroots level,” AJKPC spokesperson Ghulam Hassan Punzoo had said.

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