Hold Judicial Probe Into Killing Of Panches: AJKPC

9 May 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: A day after a panchayat member was shot dead in south Kashmir, the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), a frontline organisation of elected panches and sarpanches, today demanded the setting up of a judicial commission 'to unmask the killers' who were selectively targeting panchayat members in the state. 'We strongly condemn the killing of panchayat member Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, who was gunned down in Wanpoh village of Anantnag district. He was the ninth panchayat member to fall prey to the bullets of terrorists since the panchayat elections in 2011,' AJKPC president Anil Sharma told mediapersons here. The AJKPC leader accused the state government of being 'incompetent' to protect the lives of innocent panchayat members. 'The state government has failed to catch the killers who are roaming free after mercilessly killing the elected representatives. We demand a judicial panel headed by a sitting High Court or Supreme Court judge for a time-bound probe to find out the truth about who is sponsoring the killers of panchayat members,' Sharma said. He also condemned the state government for issuing different versions on each killing. 'Sometimes, the chief minister claims the killing of panchayat members are a result of personal enmity, while other times his government says it is a terrorist act.' Sharma said the elected panchayat members didn't want to live in fear. He also demanded sufficient relief for the next of kin of the victim besides government employment for at least one of his family members. The latest killing has created fear among the already disillusioned panchayat members. Half-dozen panchayat members from Kulgam today went to a local mosque and publicly announced their resignation. Deputy Commissioner, Kulgam, Jahangir Mir, however, said he did not receive any resignation from any panchayat member from the district. 'As of now I have not received any resignation,' Mir said. Meanwhile, the police suspected the involvement of Hizbul Mujahideen in the killing of the panchayat member. 'Preliminary investigations in the case suggest that it was a local Hizb module which carried out the attack,' said a senior police officer in Kulgam.