Putting up a brave face, Panchayat members in Jammu and Kashmir have refused to resign despite fresh militant threats.
“We wish to once again make it clear that our organisation has never ever made any such statement regarding resignation within 24 hours. However, our future course of action would be decided by our 31-members high powered committee”, said Ghulam Hassan Punzoo spokesman, All J&K Panchayat Conference (AJKPC). an apex body of panchs and sarpanchs.
AJKPC statement comes in the wake of threat from Syed Salah-ud-Din, who is chief of Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen and supremo of United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of militant outfits based in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Syed in an interview to local media had stated that the panchayat members would be targeted no matter the amount of security.
He admitted that the ultras had asked them to resign so that they are not used to undermine the current separatist struggle in J&K.
“Syed is not an ordinary person. He is the fountainhead of militancy in J&K and therefore we cannot take his threat lightly,” said Shafiq Mir, chairman of AJKPC.
Mir said they are waiting for the government reply so that future course of action would be taken accordingly. “Right now there is no proposal of resignations. We have requested centre to clear their position in the wake of threats. We will decide future course of action after 24 hours,” he said.
The threat comes just two months after hundreds of sarpanchs and panchs resigned in Kashmir following the killing of sarpanch and deputy sarpanch by militants in Palhalan and Nowpora villages in north Kashmir district of Baramulla.
Fear psychosis coupled with government’s reluctance to empower the panchayat institutions has deflated the goodwill generated by panchayat elections which saw more than 80% turnout in Jammu and Kashmir last year. More than 33,000 panchayat representatives were elected in the polls across the state.