JAMMU, Mar 17: All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), a registered organisation of elected PRI members today reiterated its demand for providing immediate security cover to all elected Panchayat representatives whose requests for the same are pending with the Home Department and Security wing of J&K Police against the backdrop of increasing risk to their lives.
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“The selective killings of elected PRI members in Kashmir is a matter of concern as it has created a sense of insecurity among Panchayat members who have been working tirelessly for strengthening democracy at grassroots level. It is the duty of the Government to instill dwindling faith of PRI members in the security apparatus and it can be achieved only by providing them foolproof security cover without further delay,” said Anil Sharma, UT president of AJKPC while addressing a press conference here.
Sharma who convened an emergent meeting of Panchayat members to discuss the situation arising out of the brutal killings of Sarpanches and Panches in Kashmir also welcomed the two-day visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s to Jammu and said that they have high hopes on the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister.
“So far, over two dozen Panchayat members including Panches, Sarpanches and Block Development Chairpersons have been gunned down by terrorists and it is unfortunate that till date not even a single terrorist responsible for these killings have been arrested or neutralized. It is quite unfortunate that authorities concerned are sitting on the files containing requests of security cover to Panchayat members,” Sharma said.
The AJKPC leader regretted that the grass-root level democracy workers in Jammu and Kashmir are being assassinated in broad daylight and not even a single person responsible for their killing has been punished so far.
“We appeal to the Union Home Minister to personally intervene into the matter and direct the UT officers for ensuring foolproof security to PRI members without any delay,” Sharma said, adding “If these killings are not stopped forthwith, fear-stricken elected PRI members would be left with no option but to resign from their positions”.
The AJKPC also expressed concern over slowed development activities in rural pockets of Jammu and Kashmir due to lapse of nearly 50 percent funds under CAPEX.
“These funds were meant for carrying out overall infrastructure development in panchayats but got lapsed due to cumbersome and unwarranted tendering process. We urge the Central Government that all necessary amendments should be made to ensure that Gram Sabhas are empowered to carry out works up to Rs 5 lakh without tendering process,” Sharma said.
“Due to the cumbersome tendering process, Panchayats could not carry out work that led to lapse of funds under Capex. Ultimately, people are the direct losers of this red tape. We request that there should be no tendering exercise for works below Rs 5 lakh at Panchayat level in J&K,” Sharma said.
The AJKPC leader also demanded immediate enhancement of monthly honorarium being paid to Sarpanches and Panches. “It is very difficult for Sarpanches and Panches to work under the existing meagre sitting fees of Rs 3,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively. We demand that the Government should immediately announce the monthly honorarium of Rs 10,000 per month for Sarpanches and Rs 5,000 per month for Panches,” Sharma added.
Senior AJKPC members Hans Raj Thakur, Des Raj Bhagat, Capt Prabu Dayal, Hans Raj Thakur, Koshal Kumar and others also accompanied.