Kashmir village heads demand punishment for colleagues' killers
Dozens of village heads across Kashmir protested in summer capital Srinagar Monday threatening mass resignation unless the killers of their colleagues are punished.
The elected village heads from south Kashmir's Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts told the media that the state government had left the elected village heads to the mercy of killers.
"There was 85 percent voter turnout during the Panchayat election of 2011. Those polls were fought on non-party basis and therefore those were people's election.
"After the election, the government has completely ignored us.
"Isn't killing of a sarpanch (village head), who was sitting in his shop, a human rights violation?
"The ruling National Conference (NC) says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is killing us and the PDP says the NC is killing us. The fact is that everybody is getting benefited by our killings.
"We have formed a six-member committee that will also call on the separatist leaders to explain our position to them. If even after that nothing happens and killings of our innocent colleagues continue, we will resign en masse."
"We are not part of any politics and we have as much stake in resolution of the Kashmir problem as anybody else here," said Khurshid Ahmad, a village head from Anantnag district. He is also the general secretary of the state Panchayat members association.
"The state chief minister told the people that after the Panchayat election, power centre would shift to the villages, said Basher Ahmad, another village head.
"We were neither given any powers nor any effort was made to protect our lives. We have become scapegoats for political parties in the Valley."
At least four elected village heads were killed last month in south Kashmir by unidentified gunmen to create a fear psychosis among the people before the Lok Sabha election in the Valley.
(Posted on 12-05-2014)