Panchayat members threaten to contest polls if demands not met

Srinagar: Setting a one-week deadline for the government, All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) on Tuesday stated that they would field their nominees in the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections if their demands are not conceded within the stipulated time. The Panchayat forum also sought investigation by the National Investigation Agency into the killings of its members in the Valley
“It’s now been two and a half years since we were elected as panchayat members. Despite our protests, sit-ins, the government hasn’t fulfilled our demands including implementation of Panchayat Raj Act or honorarium. Now we are giving a week’s ultimatum to the government to implement these genuine demands otherwise, we will teach them a lesson in the upcoming polls,” Chairman AJKPC Mohammad Shafiq Mir told reporters here.
The panchayat members have been demanding implementation of Panchayat Raj Act and enhancement of honorarium of Sarpanches and Panches to rupees 10000 and 5,000 per month. Apart from it they have been seeking security for their members in the vulnerable areas of the state. Since last two and half-years, ten panchayat workers were killed while as four were injured in Kashmir. This was followed by mass resignation of Sarpanchs and Panchs in the Valley.
Mir lamented at the government for not providing compensation to the families of slain panchayat workers killed during the past two-years by gunmen. “A thorough probe should be conducted by National Investigation Agency into the killings of Panchayat members. The government didn’t pay compensation under SRO-43 to their families. We also seek security cover for our colleagues who live in vulnerable areas,” he said.
Asked as to what if the demands are not within the stipulated time, spokesman AJKPC Ghulam Hassan Panzoo stated that they would meet Prime Minister Narender Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh to get their demands resolved through them.
“We will support any other political party to defeat and teach the incumbent coalition government a lesson in the forthcoming polls if the demands are not met. The government enhanced retirement age of employees and likewise many other pro-public decisions were taken however our demands gather dust,” said Panzoo.
He said that AJKPC won’t support opposition Peoples Democratic Party as they have been no better choice.