Srinagar: A representative body of panches and sarpanches in Jammu and Kashmir today said it will not be cowed down by attacks on the grass-root level elected members and continue to work for the betterment of the people of the state.
"The recent killing of one of our active members (by militants) in Sopore has caused a great concern among all of us but we have made a resolve not to succumb to the diktats whatsoever the consequences," Chairman of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) Mohammad Shafi Mir told reporters here.
Sarpanch Habibullah Mir was shot dead and a woman panch critically injured by suspected militants in separate attacks in north Kashmir Sopore town last week, triggering a chain of resignations by panches and sarpanches from the area.
"We are democratically elected representatives of the people who have chosen us by coming out in large numbers. The elections were conducted on non-party basis and have no bearing on Kashmir issue," Mir said.
He admitted that 80 panches and sarpanches of Sopore have tendered their resignations through media after the recent incidents.
"So far four panches and sarpanches have been killed since the historic elections. But after the attacks, 80 have dissociated themselves from the process fearing for their lives," he said.
Questioning Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallahuddin on his reported statement threatening attacks on the panches and sarpanches, Mir said "He (Sallahuddin) took to arms after he lost faith in democracy following the large scale rigging in 1987 elections.
"If he started the struggle for democracy, then why this reversal now," he said and appealed the militant leadership not to attack the panches and sarpanches who were doing their job for the betterment of their communities.