Militants have killed several panches, sarpanches since last year’s panchayat polls in J&K

At least 40 panchayat members have tendered their resignations fearing for their lives, following Sunday’s killing of a panch by militants in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

Reports suggest many more resignations are in the offing.

“Though there are reports in the media that many more have resigned, only 40 resignations — of panches including three sarpanches — have been received by the district administration so far,” Collector Khwaja Ghulam Ahmad said.

A Urdu daily here on Tuesday reported having received 53 resignations for publication.

Proper procedure

However, officials in the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department have said resignations announced before the media or in mosques will not be considered, and panches will have to follow a proper procedure if they want to quit.

On Sunday, Mohammad Shafi Teli, 38, was shot in the chest outside his house at Nowpora village in Kreeri, 35 km from here, around 8.15 p.m. No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.

Militants have killed several panches and sarpanches since the landmark panchayat polls were held in the State last year after a gap of 30 years.

Posters have surfaced in many areas of Kashmir since early this year, asking the panches and sarpanches to resign or face dire consequences. On Monday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he would discuss providing security to panchayat members at the next meeting of the Unified Headquarters.

No fear, says Soz

The ruling National Conference’s ally, the Congress claims that there is no fear among panches and sarpanches in the Valley.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Saifuddin Soz told journalists here on Tuesday, “Many sarpanches have met me since morning and they do not want to resign. They want to work for the people.”

‘Protect them’

Asserting that security could not be provided to every panchayat member, Mr. Soz asked the people to support the grass-roots level representatives.

He said the government would investigate the killings but “I cannot say that every killing is done by militants. Sometimes, there is personal rivalry involved.”

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