40 Sarpanchs, Panchs resign

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Sept 12: After South Kashmir, militants forced over 40 Panchs and Sarpanchs in North Kashmir to resign after they shot dead a Sarpanch on Monday evening creating panic in the area.
Sarpanch of Palhalan village in North Kashmir Ghulam Mohammad Yatoo was shot dead on Monday evening as soon as he came out of Masjid after offering evening prayers. His killing created panic in the entire area of Pattan in North Kashmir district of Baramulla.
The killing of Sarpanch has terrorized the elected members of Panchayats in Palhalan and its adjoining areas in Pattan area forcing over 40 of them to resign.
The killing of Palhalan Sarpanch took place after posters had appeared in several areas of Pattan area of North Kashmir asking Panchs and Sarpanchs to resign. These posters of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) appeared outside Masjids and Police had assured the Panchs and Sarpanchs that these posters are nothing but handiwork of some local contractors and vested interests. The LeT had asked Panchs and Sarpanch to resign or face consequences.
Over 40 Panchs and Sarpanchs of village Palhalan, Goshbugh, Taapar, Wusan and Kalsari Nehalpora have resigned so far and fear psychosis may force others to follow the suit. Pattan villages are militancy infested.
Most of Panchs and Sarpanchs submitted their resignation to the Block Development Officers of the respective blocks. Some of them issued advertisements in local newspaper announcing their resignation. Others have announced their resignation through posters and by making announcements through the loud speakers of the Masjids.
Panch Mohammad Yasin Shah of Nehalpora told Excelsior that after the killing of a Sarpanch in a nearby Palhalan village, his family forced him to resign. “I have six children and my wife threatened to desert me. Life is more precious so I tendered my resignation”, he added.
Abdul Khaliq Para, Sarpanch of village Tappar told Excelsior: “We don’t want to risk our lives. We feel terrorized after the killing of a Sarpanch in Palhalan and that is the reason for our resignation.”
Forty thousand Panchs and Sarpanchs across the State have become soft targets for militants as these grass root level political workers. So far over 2 dozens Panchs and Sarpanchs have either been killed or injured in militant attacks while others have been threatened.
In South Kashmir districts of Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam around 200 Panchs and Sarpanchs resigned over the past few months following militants’ threats.
Last month posters of unknown militant outfit, Al-Qaida Mujahideen appeared in several villages in Shopian district forcing around 50 Panchs and Sarpanchs to resign. These posters appeared in the market places and around Masjids in the villages of Pahlipora, Prang, Thearan, Baba Khadar, Trekawangam and Chetergam of district Shopian.

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