Political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir also extended their support to the demands of the recently elected District Development Council (DDC) members who have intensified their protest against the warrant of precedence issued by the government and have threatened to resign altogether.
The DDC members have demanded a cabinet minister's rank for the DDC chairman and are accusing bureaucrats of intentionally issuing the warrant of precedence degrading the third-tier of the Panchayati Raj system established for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir.
The CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Taragami said the government has a responsibility and is duty-bound to fulfil its own promises. “At the highest level, the government had been claiming that they will empower grassroots democracy. Now they should do it. It is not a question of an honorarium but the question of lending real powers to the DDC,” Taragami said. He said bureaucracy needs to get sensitised to the fact that the DDC comprises elected representatives.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone also held bureaucracy responsible for the “disappointment and humiliation” of the DDC members.
“DDC protocol powers disappointment-humiliation. Problem is the new stakeholder created by the union government post August 5- BUREAUCRAT Ever powerful. He/she will never facilitate democracy. will c anybody elected by people as a threat. This is simple analysis. And no rocket science,” Lone tweeted.
DDC protocol powers disappointment - humiliation. Problem is the new stakeholder created by the union Govt post August 5- BUREAUCRAT Ever powerful. He/she will never facilitate democracy. will c anybody elected by people as a threat. This is simple analysis. And no rocket science— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) March 9, 2021
The Lt Governor’s administration on Monday had issued a warrant of precedence, placing chairpersons of District Development Councils equal to administrative secretaries and inspector generals of police. Their deputies will have protocol equivalent to the vice-chancellors of universities.
The DDC members have been placed at the bottom in the warrant of precedence and have protocol equivalent to the block development council chairpersons, presidents of municipal councils. The chairperson will have a remuneration of Rs 35000 per month while vice-chairperson and member would respectively get Rs 25000 and Rs 15000 per month
Angry over the government order “degrading” protocol of chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and the members, all elected DDC members who had gathered at Jammu Convention Centre Tuesday for the address of the Lieutenant Governor, staged a dharna in the lawns at the centre and refused to go inside.
DDC chairpersons, vice persons and members from all political parties, BJP, National Conference, PDP, Congress, People’s Conference, CPM and Independents joined the protest. Some of them raised slogans against bureaucrats.
“We have shown that Jammu and Kashmir is a secular place by protesting together cutting across party lines and political ideologies. Our fight for the empowerment of elected members. It is a fight for the democracy which a section of bureaucracy is subverting,” said Dr Shanti Singh who is a DDC member from Tral area of South Kashmir.
“There has been suffocation among people in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370. People elected us so that being their representatives we would take up their issues. But a section of bureaucrats is out to humiliate us. It is not a question of salary but of honour. Post abrogation of Article 370 a section of bureaucrats doesn’t like accountability from the DDC. They want to continue with their free run. That is why they are out to discredit the mandate of people by humiliating the DDCs. They are insulting public mandate and the parliament of the country which has given us powers,” said Singh.
He said the DCC members will tender mass resignation to their respective chairpersons if the government will not give them powers given to them by statutes. "We are announcing this decision later today," he said.
“The government has been saying that they created the DDC system to show a mirror to the regional parties. They would accuse the regional parties of doing nothing in the past 70 years. But they have dismantled the whole system of the DDC in just 70 days by this warrant of precedence,” Singh said.
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