At least 38 panchayat representatives tendered resignation in Ramsoo block of Banihal district in Jammu and Kashmir accusing the government of ignoring them and making the Panchayat Raj Institution defunct and symbolic.
The two page copy of resignation letter in possession of KDC has made a remarkable mention of not allowing them to meet Union Minister of State, Rural Development and CAPD (Consumer Affairs and Public distribution) who was on a visit to the district.
“Panchayat representatives were ignored as we were not allowed to meet the minister,” the letter signed on Friday by at least 38 sarpanches and panches reads.
Union Ministers and Members of Parliament as a part of government’s outreach program have been visiting several districts of Jammu and Kashmir for the past some weeks to take review of the development works and situation.
Nearly 70 union ministers and other parliamentarians are on visit to Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation conduct meetings with limited social and political delegation in the region during their visit.
The letter reads, “government officials have not been supportive to the sarpanches and panches in resolving issues being faced and non-presence of officials in the gram sabhas has hit the daily work.”
“Due to the arrogance of authorities, and their absence from their duties we are fed up and thus resigning from our respective responsibilities until our demands are met,” they said.
They said that due to e-tendering of the Rural Development Department (RDD) works in the area have put development in the area at halt “unnecessarily” and have sought cancellation of the process for some time so that the works in the block are carried on.
The panchayat elections in the conflict torn region were conducted in 2018 after a gap of nearly seven years to “strengthen grassroot democracy”.
The election was boycotted by major political parties like National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). PDP has said that the security situation was not conducive for holding these polls.
While NC said that the decision to hold the polls was taken in a “hurried” manner without taking into considerations the prevailing situation “created by the powers that be, by unnecessarily fiddling with Article 35-A”.
While reacting to the resignations, a PDP spokesperson, Mohit Bhan said that the government’s claim of taking democracy to grass roots stands exposed by this mass resignation.
“Panch and Sarpanches were ignored during the recent Union minsters visit & the administration continues to treat them as decorative pieces,” he said.