The Governor’s administration has announced the dates for the forthcoming Panchayat polls in the state. These polls have been overdue for a longtime now. The erstwhile PDP-BJP coalition had also announced the dates for these polls but these were called off at the last moment. The then government had cited the prevailing tension as the reason for calling off the polls.
Many people believe that holding elections in south Kashmir would be a difficult task as it has emerged as the hotbed of new age militancy and people are not that inclined towards participating in the election process.
Media reports suggest that the mood of the contestants, who took part in the last elections too is grim and they are reluctant to discuss this issue. No one wants to put his life at stake.
Another factor which may keep the contestants away is that former Panchs and Sarpanchs faced lot of problems while getting the developmental works done in their respective areas as politicians did not allow them to work. Despite these elections being contested on non-partisan basis, political parties in 2011 put Panchayat representatives in a tight spot by revealing their political affiliations, which led to them becoming soft targets. Many Panchs and Sarpanchs were forced to tender their resignations as unidentified gunmen started targeting them.
After the 2016 unrest situation in south Kashmir has turned from bad to worse and holding elections under the present circumstances could prove to be an uphill task for the administration. Comparatively situation in north Kashmir is much better and there is a possibility about polls being held there and people too are likely to come forward to participate in the process. Very importantly Panchayat polls would benefit Jammu and Ladakh regions as there is no threat in these areas. Handling Kashmir would be bit difficult but it seems that Governor’s administration.