Panchayat members from Valley, Jammu support AJKPC’s strike

Panchayat members addressing press conference in Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Panchayat members addressing press conference in Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

* Demand hike in honorarium, security

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Dec 2: Elected Panchayat members from Kashmir valley and Jammu division today extended full support to hunger strike called by the All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) from December 3 against the non-payment of Rs 1,000 crore MGNREGA liabilities and their demand about enhancement of honorarium.
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The Sarpanches also demanded adequate security to Panchayat members in vulnerable areas and enhancement of their monthly honorarium from existing Rs 2,500 (Sarpanch) and Rs 1,000 (Panch) to a respectable and reasonable amount.
“We extend our fullest support to eight-day-long hunger strike called by the AJKPC State president Anil Sharma against the non-payment of over Rs 1,000 crore MGNREGA liabilities. The Government has become insensitive and indifferent to the miseries of rural masses and the non-payment of wages to poor labourers for years together is the biggest example of it,” Bilal Ahmad Wani, state executive AJKPC member and Sarpanch South Kashmir’s Anantnag said while addressing a press conference in Jammu today.
Wani, while referring to the recent terror attack on ‘Back to Village’ programme in Anantnag claiming the lives of a Sarpanch and an agriculture officer, said the Panchayat members in Kashmir valley have been working under tremendous pressure and security threat just to strengthen the grassroots level democracy but the successive regimes have ignored their security concerns by not giving adequate security cover to them.
The Sarpanch said the AJKPC leaders had been facing life threats while visiting different corners to hold interactions with Panchayat members in Kashmir valley.
“We had been demanding security cover for the AJKPC leadership so that they can move freely in Kashmir valley. Unfortunately, over one and a half dozens of Panchayat members have been gunned down in Kashmir since 2011 but the Government did not bother to provide security cover to the people facing life threats,” Wani said.
He warned that the State administration would be held responsible in case of any harm to AJKPC leadership.
Prominent Panchayat members present included Sarpanches- Amjad Hussain, Zaker Hussian and Pervez Ahmad Khan.
Meanwhile, the Sarpanches and the Panches from Jammu division, in a separate press conference, also extended their full support to the AJKPC leadership in their agitation against the non-payment of MGNREGA liabilities and other issues concerning Panchayat members.
“We will whole-heartedly extend our support to AJKPC in their ongoing struggle for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions, increase in honorarium of Sarpanches and Panches and security cover to those who have been facing security threat,” Bishan Dass, Sarpanch from block Mandal Phallain told reporters here.
He was flanked by the Sarpanch Balbir Kumar, Tara Chand, Ramesh Lal and Swaran Lal.