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Empower all three tiers of PRI system in JK equally, not just DDCs: Panchayat Conference

Threatens to launch agitation if only DDCs empowered

Jammu, March 16, 2021: Reacting strongly against the proposed government move of giving high status and protocol to the recently elected District Development Councils (DDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir, chairpersons of block development councils and sarpanches Tuesday threatened to launch an agitation if only one tier of the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) was empowered and other two tiers were left aside.

According to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), BDC chairpersons and sarpanches stated this while addressing a press conference under the banner of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference in Jammu today.

Shafiq Mir, chairperson of All J&K Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) while addressing the presser said that they were feeling deceived as the government seems to be succumbing before the pressure of “political mafia” which has entered the third tier of the PRI system in Jammu and Kashmir after they were left “jobless” since Jammu and Kashmir became the Union Territory.

He said that it was the same “political mafia” that has always been against the Panchayati Raj system in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that these political parties had boycotted the first-tier (Sarpanches and Panches) elections held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 and they had again boycotted the second tier Panchayat elections of block development councils held in 2019.

“Despite their boycott, the people of Jammu and Kashmir came out and voted for this institution. Now seeing no scope of further blackmailing, these political parties jumped in the third tier of PRI elections and now they were struggling for protocol, status and salary,” he said.

Mir who is also BDC chairperson from Bufliaz block in Poonch district said that if the government wants to fix the status, salary and protocol of DDCs, it should first start from the first tier of PRI, which is Panchayat Halqa then the second tier, which is BDCs and then comes the DDC, which is nothing but the third tier of PRI system.

“Before finalizing the powers of DDCs, the government should define autonomous powers of BDCs and Panchayat Halqas so that these institutions can work smoothly.”

Mir said the first tier and second tier of Panchayats are mostly non-political and they will never tolerate any type of interference by the political class in their working.

Expressing concern over the increasing unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir, he said that instead of uttering a single word on the public issues, these DDC members expressed their greediness by demanding high salary and status.

Mir said in fact, these are the people who looted the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and now when all doors of corruption have been closed for them, they forced their entry into the PRI.

Expressing his anguish, Arun Kumar Sharma, provincial president Panchayat Conference Jammu and BDC chairperson Sunderbani, said that if the government has decided to empower only DDCs they will not hesitate to launch agitation across the UT.

Sarshad Natnoo, Panchayat Conference coordinator for Chenab Valley and BDC chairperson Gundna block of Doda district said that before making any special salary provision for DDC members and chairpersons government should first enhance the honorarium of Panches and Sarpanches as they are the only and basic pilar of PRI system who were working on the ground—(KNO)

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