Fear Of Death Has J&K Councillors Refuse Their Jobs
14 February 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: While some newly-elected corporators resign, others take shelter in Srinagar hotels. The government rejoiced a good voter turnout during the civic polls in the Valley, but the celebrations seem to be ephemeral. The grassroots democracy in Kashmir has got its first setback, with some newly elected councillors resigning, while some others - away from their neighbourhoods - have taken shelter in city's secure hotels. In Srinagar, some elected councillors of the National Conference have taken refuge in fortified Nawai Subh Complex, the party's HQ. In south Kashmir, two councillors of the ruling PDP announced their resignation during a Friday congregation. Ghulam Mohidin Bhat and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat stood up during the congregation in Anantnag and said they won't take up the job. These moves, according sources, are an outcome of the killing of two councillors in Srinagar and Beerwah. 'We are soft targets and anybody can kill us,' said Fayaz Ahamd Bhat, an elected councilor, who has taken refuge in a city hotel. 'We are receiving threats and the government hasn't provided any security to us.' DGP (Srinagar) Gopal Sharma told Express that he would provide the councillors security, but it will take time. 'We have taken up the matter. We would provide security to them but it has to be evolved,' he said. However, not withstanding the security assurances from the government, the fear has forced some councillors to resign. NC president Omar Abdullah, threatened en masse resignation of his councillors in case their security was not ensured. Unidentified gunmen recently killed Khaksar Mohammad Maqbool Shah outside his residence in uptown city. Khaksar was tipped to be the Mayor for Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Earlier, another councillor Ghulam Mohiudin - prospective chairmain of the Beerwah Municipal Committee - was allegedly gunned down by militants.