Over 900 Panchayat Members Have Resigned: Omar

Over 900 Panchayat Members Have Resigned: Omar

19 October 2012
Rising Kashmir


Srinagar: Stating that the motive behind killing of panchs and sarpanchs in Kashmir doesn’t seem to have been militancy but more of a personal rivalry, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has disclosed that more than 900 panchayat members have resigned in Valley. “Our inquiries into killing of panchs and sarpanchs in North Kashmir are pointing in a particular direction. What is becoming increasingly apparent is these were not militant attacks,” Omar told New York Times in an interview. He said there seems to be more of a personal rivalry, for various reasons which at this point in time he can’t go into. “Initially we were pointing at Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen because our initial reaction was based on the fact that militant organizations rushed in to claim it. I think Hizbul Mujahideen claimed one. The Lashker-e-Toiba has been involved in issuing threats in other areas. However, as the investigation progressed, we have been able to establish links, in one case, to a surrendered, rather a released militant, who had served his term in jail and had certain linkages with the deputy sarpanch,” he said. Omar said there is nothing to suggest the killings of deputy sarpanch in Napora, Jagir and Sarpanch in Palhalan in Baramulla are connected at this point. When asked whether the gunman was hired by a third party, he said, “We haven’t been able to establish whether he was hired, or whether some inducements were offered or whether it was his own sort of initiative. But there has been involvement of a released militant and certain over ground workers of Hizbul Muhajideen. But the motive doesn’t seem to have been militancy. The motive is other than that”. He said after the attack, more than 900 panchayat members have submitted resignations in Kashmir so far. The Chief Minister said it is important to understand that there is a large section of people that don’t want these panchs and sarpanchs to succeed. “Among them, first and foremost, are the separatists, because they’ve made an issue out of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, across the board, whether Parliament or assembly or otherwise. The people who they defeated in the election obviously don’t want to see them succeed. In fact, they would be more than happy to see them resign since there would be a by-election and they can probably come and try to win that seat.” He said the people, who stayed away from the election process, out of fear or whatever other reason, would also not like to see these people succeed. “There is a vested interest among the establishment that is also uneasy with this new class of public representatives.” When asked whether it was vested interest political or bureaucratic, Omar said, “Both. Let’s understand that you have not had a functioning panchayat system here for more than three decades. So an entire generation of political and administrative leadership has grown up without having to work with this group of elected representatives. Clearly, they would much rather not have to deal with them.” “So when you factor all that in, yes, there will be efforts made to sort of intimidate and scare and stuff like that. Now how much of that is genuine militancy and how much of it is down to a vested interest from this section of people – that remains to be seen.”