35 more Panchs, Sarpanchs resign in Sopore

35 more Panchs, Sarpanchs resign in Sopore

14 January 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Thirty five Panchayat members today resigned in North Kashmir's Sopore area as the fear psychosis among the Panchayat members continued after militants killed a Sarpanch and critically injured a woman Panch in two separate attacks in Sopore in North Kashmir last week. The fresh resignations have taken the total number of resignations in past two days to 68. Following fresh resignations of Panchayat members in Sopore, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said that his Government is committed to secure the Panchs and Sarpanchs. In his comment on mircroblogging social network site twitter, Omar said 'We are committed to doing everything possible to keep elected representatives safe and we will continue doing that whatever the odds.' Thirty three Panchayat members resigned yesterday from Sopore after the killing of a Sarpanch in village Bomia and attack on a woman Panch in village Hardshiva led to panic among grass root level people's representatives' polls for which were held in 2011 after a gap of 34 years. Six Sarpanchs and 29 Panchs of six Panchayats of villages of Dangarpora, Brought, Lagripora and Rashidabad announced their dissociation from the Panchayats in front of media at Dak Bunglow, Sopore in North Kashmir today. Riyaz Ahmad, Sarpanch of village Zainagheer, Sopore told Excelsior that they fear for their lives after the two attacks and their families are also terrified which forced them to resign. 'We will complete the formalities of resignation before the District Panchayat officer tomorrow. First we wanted to inform the public through media that we are no longer associated with the Panchayats', said Riyaz. He said that they joined the Panchayats with a view to work for the benefit of the people. 'We could not deliver what we had promised to the people on one hand and on the other hand there is a fear factor that forced us to resign', he added. Yesterday 33 Panchs and Sarpanchs of Hardshiva and Yemberzalwari villages resigned in panic in front of media in Srinagar. The terrified Panchs and Sarpanchs resigned after the killing of Sarpanch Habibullah Mir of Gooripora Bomai in Sopore area of North Kashmir's Baramulla district on Friday and attack on a woman Panch, Zooni Begam, of village Hardshiva in Sopore on Saturday in which she was critically injured. The two attacks on Panchayat members in two days led to panic among the Panchayat members of the two villages and adjacent villages forcing 68 Panchayat members to resign in two days. According to official figures, around 1250 Panchayat members resigned so far since 2012 in Kashmir valley when the militants started targeting them by physically eliminating 4 Panchayat members and carrying out armed assault on over two dozen of them and issuing threats to them through posters. The fresh attacks on Panchayat members followed by resignations took place after last month's successful Legislative Council elections in which over 16000 Panchs and Sarpanchs voted for two LC seats of Kashmir valley. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Corps, Lt General Om Prakash while talking to media on the sidelines of a function to address Panchayat members in Anantnag, said here today that fear among the Panchayat members is temporary. 'The fear will be there among the Panchayat members after the attacks. The way efforts are being made to make the Panchs and Sarpachs secure, I feel this fear factor is temporary and it will go soon', the GOC added. The Commander said that it is the duty of the security forces to provide security to these grass root level Panchayat representatives. 'Ït is the duty of the villagers as well and they should protect their representatives. They should come forward and protect them against the militant attacks as they represent these people', he added.