Panchayat Polls Not Linked To Kashmir Dispute: J&K Govt

Panchayat Polls Not Linked To Kashmir Dispute: J&K Govt

9 October 2012
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Terming Kashmir a disputed territory between the Jammu and Kashmir government said Panchayati Raj system has the sole objective of village-level development and it should not be linked with politics or Kashmir dispute. “Kashmir is a dispute between India and Pakistan. And it has been accepted by both the countries,” said Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar said while replying to a short discussion in the Assembly on recent killing of panchayat members and the need for steps to safeguard and empower the panchayats. “There should be no confusion about the disputed nature of Kashmir. Nobody should try to take political benefit on the issue of Panchayat Raj System as it will only vitiate the situation. Kashmir problem is on an admitted fact which needs political solution and panchayats has nothing to do with it,” he added. Around 43,000 grassroots level representatives were elected in the 2011 polls, held after a gap of 30 years. However, in the wake of militant threats and killings, over 400 representatives have resigned. “Kashmir problem on an admitted fact needs political solution and Panchayats have nothing to do with it,” Sagar said. Pleading his government’s haplessness in providing security to panchayat members individually, he said: “The government cannot provide individual security to panches and sarpanches. But various steps have been initiated to instil a sense of security among them.” He said the Unified Headquarters meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has decided to sensitise all the vulnerable areas in the state. On incorporating 73 Amendment of the Constitution in the state, Sagar said: “We appreciate the point raised by the members from various parties about incorporating the provisions of the 73rd amendment in J&K Panchayati Raj Act. We can do it.” The minister said his government was open good suggestions with regard to strengthening of panchayats. Asserting that holding of panchayat elections in the state was a landmark achievement of the government, Sagar sought cooperation of the legislators to take this process to its logical conclusion.After Monday’s episode when three youth who had been issued passes by a sitting MLA tried to disrupt the proceedings of the House, Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone said he has ordered frisking of MLAs “if necessary.”