Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah promised security to sarpanches and panches amid reports of mounting resignations by them in the wake of attacks by militants.

Government will not remain a silent spectator to these attacks and would take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security, particularly in vulnerable areas, he said.

Referring to the killing of three panchayat members this year, Omar said the state government would not allow the ultras to disrupt ongoing efforts to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system in the state.

Dubbing militants as cowards for attacking panches and sarpanches,  Abdullah dared the ultras to target him, saying they would not do so fearing a befitting reply.

Under fire over recent attacks on panches and sarpanches, Abdullah asserted that attempts to derail the Panchayat process by the militants would be thwarted.

"These (militants) cowards are attacking defenseless people. If they have the courage let them carry out an attack on me. But they will not do it as they know they will get a befitting reply," Omar said.

In the aftermath of the killing of a panch in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Sunday, reports said that nearly 100 panchayat members wanted to opt out fearing for their life.

Militants have targeted several panches and sarpanches since the landmark panchayat polls were held in the state last year after a gap of 30 years.

Posters have surfaced in many areas of Kashmir since early this year, asking the panches and sarpanches to resign from their posts or face dire consequences.

Omar said, "So far, we have only received 50 resignations since the panchayat elections were held last year," adding none of these resignations had been accepted so far."

"I have convened a meeting on October one to discuss this issue. We have to increase the deployment of security forces or change the deployment pattern according to the threat perception," he said.

Omar said devolution of power to the panchayats had not gone down well with a section of politicians and bureaucrats.

"Many MLAs and even two ministers from our coalition partner have come to me asking not to transfer block level powers to panchayats," in an obvious reference to Congress.

Opposition PDP lashed out at the state government accusing it of failing to provide security to Panchayat members.


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