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news details
New Delhi may provide insurance cover to candidates
Local bodies' polls
9/7/2018 10:49:30 PM
Early Times Report

JAMMU, Sept 7: Notwithstanding the negative attitude adopted by the Kashmir based parties, including PDP and NC towards the upcoming civic bodies' elections, the Union Government is, according to top sources, planning to "provide an insurance cover to encourage greater participation in the local bodies' polls amid growing militant threats in Jammu and Kashmir". While NC has threatened that it would boycott the polls if the Union and the state Governments failed to hold out a categorical commitment that they would protect (illegal) Article 31A, the PDP has also adopted almost an identical stance. They have forgotten that the case is in the Supreme Court and it will be heard on January 19, 2019.
Reports have said that "Officials fear the growing militant presence, including those of locals, in Kashmir and the killing of 16 sarpanches (Panchayat heads) and panchs (members) over the last four years could deter people from contesting the polls" and that "fewer contestants are being expected even for the panchayat elections unlike in the past". According to reports, "leaders of some political parties had suggested the insurance cover as they are worried about the militant threats and prospects of low participation" and said "the government was in touch with some insurance companies for providing group insurance cover to potential panchayat members".
"Many options are on the table. Discussions are going on and the final decision has not been taken yet whether all those contesting local polls will be insured in a group or only elected members will get this cover," a report from New Delhi has said.
The elections were to be held in January, but were deferred after the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP and BJP coalition government told New Delhi that the "situation was not conducive for holding polls". The then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had called an all-party meet before warning the Centre that there could be serious "law and order problems, especially in south Kashmir, if the elections were held". The poll process was given a fillip after the imposition of governor's rule on June 20. The BJP on June 19 had withdrawn its support to Mehbooba Mufti leading to the collapse of the coalition government. The elections are now to be held between October and December, if at all held. Nearly 4,500 sarpanches and 29,000 panchs were elected in the last panchayat polls in 2011 when as many as 75 per cent voters exercised their right to vote. As for the Jammu & Kashmir government, it has, according to sources, "expressed its inability to provide security to most panchayat members citing their large numbers". It would be seen if the scheduled elections would be held or again deferred and this time under pressure from Kashmiri leaders.
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