Press Trust of india

Over 50 agitated sarpanches, panches resign in Ramban

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Banihal/Jammu:  Over 50 sarpanches and panches have resigned en masse in two blocks of Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir over various issues, officials said on Saturday.

They have resigned alleging lack of promised empowerment, unnecessary interference and their side-lining by the administration during the ongoing public outreach programme of the central ministers, officials said.

Amid the en mass resignation by rural civic body representatives, Peoples Democratic Party took a pot-shot at the BJP government, saying the “cosmetic normalcy and pomp and show being projected (in the Union Territory) stands punctured.”

Officials, however, said the district panchayat officer Ashok Singh held a meeting with the representatives of the agitated members and requested them to withdraw their resignation, seeking to assure them that all their genuine grievances would be addressed at the earliest.

About 50 sarpanches and panches, belonging to Banihal and Ramsu blocks, submitted their resignation en-mass to concerned Block Development Council chairpersons on Friday after an emergency meeting, the officials said.

Sarpanches Ghulam Rasool Mattoo, Tanveer Ahmad Katoch and Mohammad Rafiq Khan alleged that the promises made to them by the government have only remained on the papers.

They alleged that they are being ignored and face unnecessary interference in developmental works while the promised participation of 30 government departments in Gram Sabhas has proved a “crude joke”.

Referring to the visit of central government ministers under the public outreach programme, they said the local administration is not honouring their protocols and only selected representatives are invited to have meetings with visiting ministers to mislead the government.

“Only one sarpanch among 12 was allowed to meet the visiting Minister of State for Rural Development in Banihal. Mattoo was also not allowed to meet the Railway minister to raise public issues,” Katoch said, adding they are facing humiliation as they are unable to fulfil any promise made to the public.

Mattoo alleged that contractors are running the show on the ground as the government failed to implement the Panchayati Raj and they are not allowed to take part in the tendering process for different projects.

Sharing a two-page resignation letter of the panches and sarpanches on Twitter, PDP spokesperson Mohit Bhan wrote, “55 Panches & Sarpanches resign en masse. Cosmetic normalcy pomp & show being projected stands punctured. The government failed in securing these elected representatives & neither could empower them to carry out public welfare works.

“The government”s claim of taking democracy to its grassroots stands exposed by this mass resignation. Panches and Sarpanches were ignored during the recent Union ministers’ visit & the administration continues to treat them as decorative pieces,” the PDP leader said.

Ramban district president of J&K Panchayat Conference, Mohammad Iqbal Katoch said a group of agitating panches and sarpanches met the district panchayat officer Ashok Singh on Saturday and apprised him of their grievances.

“The officer requested them to withdraw their resignation with an assurance that all their grievances will be addressed in shortest possible time,” Katoch, who was also present during the meeting said.

He added that another meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday to sort out the issues raised by the panches and sarpanches in their joint resignation letter.

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