India

J&K plans insurance cover for rural local body members

J&K plans insurance cover for rural local body members
“We had received directions from the Civil Secretariat to provide Aadhaar and other details of all the elected rural local body members, including chairpersons of the Block Development Councils,” a senior officer said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government is considering insurance cover for all members of rural local bodies in view of militant attacks on panches and sarpanches and demands for security cover due to threat perception.

While the extent of the insurance cover is yet to be finalised, official sources said that the Rural Development Department has started collecting Aadhaar and other details of all the rural local body members. “We had received directions from the Civil Secretariat to provide Aadhaar and other details of all the elected rural local body members, including chairpersons of the Block Development Councils,” a senior officer said.

“The matter is under consideration,” said Sheetal Nanda, Commissioner-Secretary of the Rural Development Department, adding that details will be worked out during discussions with the insurance company. “We are, at present, collecting Aadhaar card and other family details of the rural local body members,” she said, adding that “a proposal will be submitted to the UT government”.

This comes after the death of Ajay Pandita, the first sarpanch from the Kashmiri Pandit community to be killed by militants, in South Kashmir on June 8.

Chairman of Buffliaz Block Development Council, Shafiq Mir, who also happens to be the chairperson of All J&K Panchayat Conference, an organisation of elected rural local body members in the UT, asked the government to ensure protection of the elected members, saying that “we want to live” instead of getting insurance cover.

Anil Sharma, president of the J&K Panchayat Conference, accused the administration of being non-responsive. “Our delegation at a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah in September last year had demanded insurance cover of Rs 25 lakh for every elected rural local body member so that their families get some financial aid in the event of any untoward incident,” he said, adding that successive state governments had not given ex-gratia relief to the families of the panches and sarpanches killed so far.

Sharma said the demand for security cover remains and is a different issue altogether. He said police protection should be provided to at least those panches and sarpanches who have sought the same.

There are nearly 30,000 panches, sarpanches and BDC chairpers. After the panchayat elections were held in J&K after a gap of 23 years in 2011, 19 panches and sarpanches have been killed in Kashmir — all from the Muslim community barring Pandita.