‘J&K’s silent majority unheard’

first_imgSome newly elected panchayat members of Jammu and Kashmir who were in New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that isolated incidents of stone throwing were being turned into prime-time debates on television channels while the voice of the “silent majority” went unheard.A delegation of 48 members was here to meet the Prime Minister.The previous panchayat elections were held in April-May 2011 with a 80% voter turnout. J&K has 4,130 sarpanches (village headmen) and 29,719 panches (panchayat members). The voter turnout was 74% this time, with the Kashmir Valley recording 41%.“Not only separatists but mainstream political parties had also boycotted the elections; despite this there was a 74% turnout, this means people are pro-democracy,” said Shafiq Mir, who was representing All J&K Panchayat Conference, a conglomerate of 54 representatives from the State. The members addressed a press conference in New Delhi.On reports that some elected members were still put up in hotels in Srinagar due to security concerns, Mr. Mir said, “Those are isolated cases. We are apolitical and are here for community work.”Low voter turnoutOn being asked about the low turnout in the Kashmir Valley, which has seen protests and violence, Mr. Mir said, “The kind of situation that persists there, we should be grateful even if there was 10% polling in Kashmir.”Another panchayat member from Pulwama in South Kashmir said on condition of anonymity that people who acted as informers of police need to fear.“I am from Pulwama, it’s a backward area. We have been elected to serve the people but the salary for panches is merely ₹1,000 per month and for sarpanch it’s ₹2,000. The government should increase it to ₹25,000 at least. We will see when death comes, but currently we are here for development,” said Jaan Mohammad, another panch. Tashi, a panchayat member from Leh, said the issues of his area were sidelined as the entire focus was on some districts in the Kashmir Valley. “We have been demanding a University in Leh for decades, our children go to Delhi and Chandigarh for higher studies. When Mehbooba Mufti was the Chief Minister, she didn’t okay the proposal saying Leh was not a divisional office.”last_img

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