J&K panchayat members to meet Rahul Thursday
Jammu: A group of 10 panchayat members from Jammu and Kashmir will meet Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi Thursday to apprise him of their problems, which include demand for adequate security as they have become soft targets of militants.
The group led by Shafiq Mir, a sarpanch (elected village head) from border and mountainous district Poonch, left for New Delhi Wednesday from here.
"We will put forth three main demands - adequate security to elected panchayat members, a compensation of Rs.20 lakh to families of panchayat members killed and implementation of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution," said Mir while talking to media here.
He said that the group comprises panches (elected village representative) and sarpanches (village heads) from Jammu, Udhampur, Poonch and Srinagar districts.
According to Mir, the panchayats were not given due powers even 18 months after their elections, which has caused uncertainty among them and, besides, they have became soft targets of militants. "All this has created distress and scare among the panchayat members," Mir said.
The panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir were held last year on non-party basis. Shafiq Mir observed that the killings of panchayat members started when political parties began claiming allegiance of panchayat members.
He said a total of 10 panchayat members, including panches and sarpanches, have been killed till date, leading to resignations of over 400 of them in different phases.
"All these issues will be discussed with Rahul Gandhi and we hope something concrete will come out of the meeting to infuse confidence among the panches and sarpanches and draw them out of state of fear after being targeted by militants," said Mir.