Grass­roots democ­racy threat­ened in the val­ley

The LET wants the state’s sarpanches to quit. But the lack of re­mu­ner­a­tion and func­tional power is al­ready do­ing the trick, says

Tehelka - - SIR CREEK - RIYAZ WANI

LAST APRIL’S pan­chayat elec­tions in Jammu & Kash­mir that saw an 80 per­cent voter turnout her­alded the muchde­layed em­pow­er­ment of grass­roots democ­racy in the state. But a year later, around 34,000 elected vil­lage rep­re­sen­ta­tives are star­ing at an un­cer­tain fu­ture, caught be­tween a gov­ern­ment that doesn’t em­power them, and a frag­ile se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion where they are sit­ting ducks for mil­i­tants or gun­men.

One such in­ci­dent took place last month when posters pur­port­edly signed by the Lashkar-e-toiba ( LET) went up across Pul­wama dis­trict in south Kash­mir, ask­ing the panches and sarpanches to re­sign within a week, fail­ing which they would be­come the LET’S “le­git­i­mate tar­gets”.

“The Kash­mir is­sue has per­sisted for the last six decades and is now echo­ing across the world. But the gov­ern­ment is us­ing you as

• False dawn More than 80 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in J&K took part in last year’s pan­chayat polls

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