Fear keeping people away from Kashmir's B2V2 programme

PTI file photo

Fear of militant attacks and alleged failure to fulfill previous commitments are keeping people away from J&K government’s much-hyped “Back to Village-II (B2V2)” initiative in Kashmir.

On November 26, an assistant agriculture officer and a sarpanch were killed when unidentified militants lobbed a grenade and opened fire on the participants of B2V2 meeting in Hakoora area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The attack has not only created fear among the officials, but participants as well. “It is too risky to attend B2V2 meetings in remote villages of south Kashmir, where militants can strike anytime. The authorities have also failed to provide adequate security to such meetings,” a government official wishing anonymity told DH.

He said the government went ahead with the B2V2 programme in Kashmir despite the situation not being conducive due to the prevailing uncertainty which arose after the abrogation of J&K’s special status under Article 370 on August 5.

“We are in a devil and deep sea situation. If we fail to attend the meetings, authorities will take action against us under rules and if we attend our duties we may lose our lives as was the case with one of our colleagues in November 26 attack. Either government should provide us foolproof security during these meetings or postpone the programme till the situation improves,” the official added.

Sources said that following Hakoora attack, the government clubbed many of the Panchayat Halqas in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Anantnag districts where B2V2 programmes were held under tight security.

A police official said there was no threat perception in north and central Kashmir areas, “but few pockets in south Kashmir were vulnerable.”

“Keeping that in mind security has been enhanced around the venues of B2V2 meetings in south Kashmir areas. We will ensure that Hakoora like incident is not repeated in future,” he said.

However, people are reluctant to participate in these meetings as they say besides fear, issues taken up with the higher authorities in the previous B2V2 meeting were not fulfilled so far.

“What is the fun of our participation when our previous demands were not fulfilled?” asked Sameer Wani, a resident of Pulwama.

He said such programmes are meaningless until the demands raised by the people in the previous B2V programme will be fulfilled.

B2V is an outreach programme to listen to public grievances, empower Panchayats, ensure village level development, and grassroots level planning. High-ranking officers and members of the district administration join the programme in every Panchayat area in the Union Territory.

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