AJKPC hunger strike ends; 200 members detained, released

Protesting Panchayat members being arrested by Police in Jammu on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Protesting Panchayat members being arrested by Police in Jammu on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Dec 10: The 168-hour-long hunger strike launched by All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), under the leadership of its president Anil Sharma on Tuesday ended with the detention of over 200 Sarpanches/ Panches from different parts of the State.

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Irked over the indifferent and insensitive attitude of the Union Government and J&K Administration towards elected Panchayat members, the AJKPC also announced second phase of agitation under which the Panchayat members would hold block-level protests across Jammu and Kashmir from December 20 to 30.
On the last day of hunger strike, the Director Rural Development Department (RDD) Jammu, Sudershan Kumar visited the site of hunger strike and listened to the various demands of AJKPC members.
During the interaction, the Director said that it was beyond his competence to fulfill all major demands being raised by the AJKPC and he would take up the matter with higher authorities.
Agitated over the helplessness expressed by the Director RDD, the protesting Sarpanches marched towards the busy Tawi bridge to block the traffic. The Sarpanches had little scuffle with the large contingent of police personnel who tried to stop them from marching towards Tawi bridge.
In the process, the police personnel detained over 200 Sarpanches and shifted them to District Police Lines (DPL). Later, they were released from the police custody.
Earlier, some senior Sarpanches from various parts of J&K offered juice to the Panchayat members, including AJKPC president Anil Sharma and Jitender Singh, to end their 168-hour-long hunger strike.
While addressing the protesting Sarpanches, Sharma accused the Union Government of only paying lip service to Panchayat members without bothering about real issues confronting them.
He said that J&K Administration and the Union Government have no concerns for rural masses as they failed to clear MGNREGA liabilities despite repeated requests. He also demanded adequate security cover to Panchayat members and enhancement of their monthly honorarium.
Announcing the second phase of agitation Sharma said, “the Sarpanches and Panches would hold block level protests from December 20 to 30 to bring J&K administration and the Central government out of deep slumber. Sarpanches would submit memoranda to their respective Deputy Commissio-ners from January 2 to January 12, 2020.”
He said if the Government fails to resolve the genuine issues of rural masses, AJKPC will `gherao’ the Civil Secretariat in March.