Threat posters, asking Panchayat members to resign from their posts in four days or face consequences, appeared overnight on Pulwama's mosques in Jammu and Kashmir. The handwritten posters, composed in Urdu, have also warned people against attending political rallies ahead of state assembly elections.
Militants have killed more than nine members in the state since panchayat elections were held in 2011. Fear psychosis coupled with the government's callous attitude has deflated the goodwill generated by panchayat elections, that saw more than 80 per cent turnout in Jammu and Kashmir. Nearly 33,540 panches and sarpanches were elected in the polls across the state.
Besides, Pulwama has seen some violent incidents of late. Six people, including five security men, have been killed and 12 others have been injured in four separate incidents in the district in the last 10 days. The threat posters, issued by hitherto unknown outfit, Hai Alal Jihad, in south Kashmir's Pulwama district have therefore rattled the panchayat leaders.
"We were apprehensive that militants may target panchayat members to derail the poll process in the forthcoming elections," said Shafiq Mir, chairman of All J&K Panchayat Conference, an apex body of panches and sarpanches in the state. "We are concerned and we can't take this (threat) lightly."
Laced with pro Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen and Jaish-e-Mohammad sentiments, the posters have warned panches and sarpanches to resign. "We want to ask panches and sarpanches to resign within four days. Otherwise we cannot be held responsible for the consequences," according to a translation of the posters.
The posters also state that locals must desist from joining poll rallies of mainstream parties, particularly those of the National Conference and the People's Democratic Party. "We shall not allow anybody to go for a sellout. In the coming days, we will target those people who are instrumental in making the election process successful," the posters state.
The police are probing who is responsible for the posters, but also said that these may likely be a stunt. "The appearance of the posters is likely a mischief. We are looking into who has done this mischief," said Tejinder Singh, senior superintendent of police, Pulwama.