Govt mulling Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for civic-poll candidates

Police say security to all candidates not possible

Srinagar, September 19:

The state government is contemplating an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh for the candidates participating in the upcoming local bodies and panchayat elections. The move is geared to instill confidence among them in the wake of threats from militants and encourage them to join the fray.  “The plan is to ensure an insurance of Rs 10 lakh for each candidate. Governor S P Malik has already given his consent to the proposal,” a reliable source in the Governor’s administration revealed to Greater Kashmir. “The move will help infuse a new wave of energy among the candidates”.

Local bodies polls are being held from October and Panchayat elections from November. The announcement was made recently by the Chief Electoral Officer ShaleenKabra despite the fact that the major political parties like National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress have decided to stay away from the poll process.

The NC and PDP have boycotted the exercise citing assault on the article 35A that guarantees special citizenship rights to the people of J&K.

The Supreme Court has deferred the petitions seeking rollback of the constitutional provision till January. The BJP is the only political party that has favoured elections and will contest on all seats.

The police, however, has expressed its inability to provide security to candidates as their number is huge. At least 4400 Sarpanchs and 29000 Panchs will be elected in the panchayat polls.

“We will first assess the number of the candidates, review their threat perception and accordingly decide on providing them security cover,” he said.

The police are already facing a fresh challenge in the form of incidents of torching of Panchayatghars. In the past two days, three Panchayatghars have been set ablaze in southern districts of Shopian and Pulwama.

“We have already registered a case and investigations have been started. Some miscreants have been identified. So far it’s not clear who is behind these acts,” said additional director general of police, law and order, security Munir Khan. Reacting to the proposal of giving the candidates an insurance cover, chairman Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) Shafiq Mir said, “We never wanted an insurance cover for us. We only demanded a secure atmosphere for elections which is the job of the government. As far as burning of Panchayatghars, it can be the handiwork of those who are against Panchayat as an institution. Police shouldn’t pinpoint one particular group.”

At least 16 Sarpanchs and Panchs have been killed since last panchayat elections were held in the state in 2011. Around two dozen Sarpanchs and Panchs were also injured by the unidentified gunmen.

HizbulMujahideen commander ReyazNaikoo in his previous audio message circulated on social media warned of carrying out acid attack on the contesting candidates. He claimed that the militant outfit had collected stocks of sulpuric and hydrochloric acid.

Courtesy: Greater Kashmir

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