Omar dares militants to attack him, describes them as cowards

Omar dares militants to attack him, describes them as cowards

26 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today while terming the militants as cowards for attacking Panchayat members dared them to attack him and said that they will not do it fearing befitting reply. He also took head on its coalition partner in the Government, Congress party, by rejecting the implementation of 73rd 74th amendment of Indian Constitution empowering Panchayats in the State. Addressing a press conference here this evening, Omar said that Government will not bear the attack on these defenceless Panchs and Sarpanchs. He said 'They are attacking defenseless people. If they have the courage let them carry out an attack on me. But they will not do it as they know they will get a befitting reply.' Omar said that Government would not remain a silent spectator to these attacks and would take all necessary measures to ensure the security of Panchs and Sarpanchs in vulnerable areas of the State. He, however, made it clear that Government can't provide security to each Panch and Sarpanch. He said that Government will secure the areas where these members face security threat. Omar said that Government will take threat assessment of these members and if need is felt for personal protection of Panchs and Sarpanchs Government has no reservation in providing security to them at individual level. The Chief Minister described the attack on Panchayat members as militancy issue and said that it will be discussed in the Unified Headquarters meeting on October 1. 'Security forces have a role and if I have to use extra forces I will use them for the protection of Panchs and Sarpanchs', he said. Omar said that an impression is being created that the situation in the Valley had gone out of control and the Panchs and Parpanchs were resigning day in and day out. 'So far, we have only received 50 resignations since the Panchayat elections were held last year. None of these resignations have been accepted so far', he added. The Chief Minister said that the State Government will not allow the militants to derail the Panchayati Raj system in the State. He said that Government will hold by-elections wherever the Panchs and Sarpanchs resign. Omar said that his Government is strengthening the Panchayat Raj system in the State and so far powers of 14 departments have been transferred to the Panchs and Sarpanchs. Omar said that last year militants and separatists tried to derail the Panchayat elections. 'After people took part in these elections Syed Salahudin issued a statement saying they have nothing to do with Panchayat Raj system', he added. He said that now they are again trying to derail the system by threatening and killing Panchs and Sarpanchs. He described the militants as biggest enemies of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. They targeted the Wullar project and our neighbour got benefited out of it, when 'we were the beneficiaries of the project'. 'Similarly Panchyat Raj system is beneficial for the people of the State and they don't want its success', he added. Omar said that they have arrested people who were terrorizing the Panchayat members in certain areas of Kashmir valley and cases were registered against them. He said that two Ministers of the Congress party were against the transfer of block level powers to Panchs and Sarpanchs. Without naming the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president, Omar said 'Now we are being asked through a letter that they should empower Panchayats when we have already empowered them.' The Chief Minister said that MLAs and Government officials are resisting empowering of Panchayats. He said that some of the members of who were defeated in these local elections and those who didn't participate due to fear factor want to create an atmosphere of fear so that they take the place of the Panchayat members, who resign. Omar announced holding of Block level elections in the first week of November and the Local Bodies elections by the end of this year. He rejected the demand for implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendment of Indian constitution empowering Panchayats. He said that a wave is being created inside the State and across the country about the non-implementation of these amendments. 'There is no need to implement 73rd and 74th Amendment of Indian Constitution in the State. I am not accepting it', added the Chief Minister. Omar said that the State has its own constitution and 'we will make major amendments in it to empower the Panchayats'. On linking recent killing of Panchayat members with the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of Kashmir, Omar said that two issues are separate. He said that he has not talked about the withdrawal of AFSPA from Sopore, Baramulla and other areas of Kashmir valley but from Srinagar and its adjoining areas. 'Has anything happened in these areas?' Omar asked. The Chief Minister without naming Army said that an euphoria is being created in the State that militancy is on rise. Omar said 'What were they (Army) doing on the borders? They have to answer it. We don't have any control over the borders.' Omar said that the levels of violence in the State have gone down this year. 'It has been less than last year', he said adding that some opportunists want to make their own point by projecting the killing of Panchayat members as rise in militancy. On Soz's remarks that political rivalry is behind the killing of Panchs and Sarpanchs, Omar said that they have no evidence. He said that Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba have owned the killing of Panchs and Sarpanchs and threatened them through posters. 'If Soz has evidence, we are grateful if he shares it with the Home Department', added Omar.