Legislators caution government on panchayat polls

Legislators caution government on panchayat polls
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Notification to be issued soon: Govt

Jammu: Legislators across the political divide including one from the ruling PDP Thursday cautioned the government against holding Panchayat elections in February in view the security scenario in the Valley.
National Conference’s Hom Shalibugh MLA Abdul Majeed Larmi told the government to not conduct panchayat elections as the ruling coalition had failed to stop civilian killings.
“The government forces have killed civilians continuously. People in southern parts of Kashmir valley have been facing persecution at the hands of the forces. What election will the government conduct,” he asked.
MLA Khansahib, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen during his comments on grants to Panchayati Raj department said, “Keep in mind that you were forced to cancel the elections to single Lok Sabha seat in Valley just 24 hours before its schedule.”
“We are not against elections as elections are for development but if the situation in which Srinagar Lok Sabha elections were held then,” Yasin told the government. At least 9 people were killed on April 08, 2016 when by-polls to Lok Sabha elections were held which witnessed less than a 7 percent turnout.
“Peace in Valley is momentary and Panchayat elections might disrupt that. The government should rethink on the matter before taking any decision,” he suggested.
The concern was shared by ruling PDP MLA from Pulwama, Khalil Bandh, who said that the government needs to look at the issue in a holistic manner.
CPI (M) MLA from Kulgam, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that the situation should not take a turn where “candidates fill forms and the election is postponed.”
“What will happen to those candidates then?” Tarigami asked.
NC legislator Ali Muhammad Sagar questioned the separate budget for panchyat as tabled by the finance minister this year.
He said the finance minister has “scrapped the power budget and brought in Panchayat budget which is already an independent institution and is foundation of democracy”. “But from where it came? Is it a step to centralise Panchayats,” he asked.
“Have you succeeded in creating an atmosphere for holding elections,” he asked the Panchayati Raj minister. “Please tell us whether these elections will be held or not?”
Sagar added, “People know who is doing what. Strengthen the system and the atmosphere. It was Omar Abdullah led government that conducted the elections after 38 years.”
Panchayati Raj Minister, Abdul Haq Khan, in his response, told the house that the government was committed to strengthen the democracy at grassroots level by holding Panchayat elections.
“All arrangements are being put in place to ensure smooth conduct of the polls and the formal notification in this regard will be issued soon by the competent authority,” the minister said while winding up the debate on the demand for grants of the Panchayati Raj.