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Strengthening democracy: Five months on, 28 Sarpanchs in Pulwama yet to take oath

Strengthening democracy: Five months on, 28 Sarpanchs in Pulwama yet to take oath
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Pulwama: Even after five months have elapsed after the Panchayat elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir, around 28 Sarpanchs have failed to take oath of office in various areas of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
These Sarpanchs who had put their lives at risk to contest elections are in a dilemma as the Panchayat bodies they represent do not have a single elected Panch.
“Officials are telling us that we cannot be administered oath of office as the Panchayats where we have been declared as elected do not have a single Panch. And as such we cannot be allowed to take oath of office,” said a Sarpanh wishing anonymity.
“If the officials at the time of elections knew that no one has submitted his form to contest the Panchayat elections as Panch, why were we declared as elected? The officials should have should have either rejected our forms or asked us to take our forms back,” said Sajid Raina, an elected Sarpanch from Arihal Pulwama.
“Only announcements were made that we have been elected as Sarpanch but nobody called us for oath ceremony and on asking officials told us that we are not eligible as we have no Panches to complete the quorum,” he said.
“We were just made scapegoats by the Union government as well the district administration. They wanted to show the whole world that Panchayat elections have taken place and democracy exists in Kashmir. But in reality they played a game with us,” he added.
“During the time of elections, the government as well as district officials were begging before us to submit our forms and huge promises were made with us however, the same government and officials are mocking at us now,” he further added.
“We left our families and are living in Srinagar due to militant threat but we have been left in the lurch,” he said, adding that if the conditions remains unchanged no one among us will contest election in future”.
“If the quorum is must then how five Sarpanchs from Shopian took oath and are getting salary despite the fact that their Panchayats too do not have any elected Panches,” Raina asked.
“Despite taking a huge risk we have been left to fend for ourselves and even our families have been put at risk,” said another Sarpanch, Sarwar Ahmad.
“We have already taken up the issue with the governors grievance cell and Divisional Commissioners office, but as of now we have got no response from them,” he added.

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