Kashmir: Sikh Panchayat Leaders in Pulwama Resign After Militants' Threats

Simranjeet Singh, the 24-year-old brother of the Khasipora village sarpanch, was shot dead on January 4.

New Delhi: After a young Sikh man was killed and militant organisations issues threats of further violence, all Sikhs who had been elected sarpanch and panch in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district resigned en masse on January 10.

Simranjeet Singh, the 24-year-old brother of the Khasipora village sarpanch, was shot dead on January 4.

Militant organisations have earlier issued threat letters to those elected in the recently-held panchayat elections, warning them of consequences if they participate in ‘pro-India activities’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an interview with a news agency, had said it was a big achievement that panchayat polls had been conducted successfully in the state.

A former sarpanch said militants had posted threat letters warning them to resign immediately and desist from participating in elections, otherwise they and their families would be killed.

Low-intensity bombs were reportedly earlier hurled at the homes of at least four newly elected leaders.

“We have resigned en masse, but the deputy commissioner of the district is not accepting our resignations,” a sarpanch said, on the condition of anonymity.

Jagmohan Raina, a community rights activists and coordinator of the All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC), said the government is talking about state elections but has failed to provide a sense of security to those already elected.

Superintendent of police Awantipora, Mohd Zaid, said there is no threat to any elected member.

“We cannot provide security to every elected member,” he said, adding that militants issuing death threats is not new and that everything should not be linked to militancy in Kashmir.

Head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Sayeed Salahudeen, had earlier issued a statement saying that the killing of Simranjeet is the handiwork of Indian agencies.

Jagmohan Raina said Salahudeen should come forward and name the killers, adding, “Armed groups and the administration cannot treat minorities in Kashmir as punching bags.”

After the APSCC issued a press statement that people across the political spectrum should condemn the killing of the Sikh youth, the Joint Resistance Leadership (an alliance of separatist leaders) has denounced the killing.

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