Srinagar: Salaries of employees of Rural Development Department (RDD) would be withheld if they “fail” to protect panchayat ghars ahead of the upcoming panchayat elections in Kashmir.
According to a directive issued by RDD, the assistant commissioner development (ACD) should ensure that panchayat ghars are properly safeguarded in their respective districts. They have been instructed to post watch and ward staff for the department’s buildings, including panchayat ghars, to “protect” government property.
“They are also instructed not to draw the salary or remuneration of those village and multi-purpose level workers, supervisors, junior engineers, and Gram Rozgar Sevaks, who fail to maintain the headquarters (of panchayats),” said Director RDD Kashmir, Qazi Sarwar.
Sarwar said he has directed Block Development Officers (BDOs) to ensure that field staffers operate out of panchayat ghars.
More than a thousand panchayat ghars exist in Kashmir division for sarpanchs and panchs, along with field functionaries of the rural development department, to operate from. But the panchayat ghars were mostly abandoned after the five-year term of the previous panchayats expired in 2016. Since then, the polls had been due.
A field employee of RDD said that they were operating out of block offices but the recent instructions have prompted them to operate out of panchayat ghars, so that the buildings remain safe.
Sarwar said the fresh order was a follow-up to an earlier order and was issued after several panchayat buildings were torched in Pulwama, Shopian and Bandipora districts.
“Making panchayat ghars operational will help in curbing such incidents,” he said.
Besides the staff, people on whose land the panchayat ghars have been constructed have also been instructed to maintain “watch and ward” of the facilities.
The government directive comes after nine bids made by unknown persons to set afire panchayat ghars in Kashmir. The bids were made soon after dates were announced for municipal and panchayat polls. The series of arson bids followed a threat issued by Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Naikoo to candidates to stay away from the polls or face death.