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Militants Kill Two During 'Back to Village' Function In J&K, Govt Says Programme Will Continue

Government says militant attacks have happened earlier also and can't stop the programme

Representative Image File Photo

Two blasts rocked Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag and Srinagar districts on Tuesday, killing two people and injuring seven, police said.

In south Kashmir's Anantnag, unidentified militants lobbed a grenade in Wagoora area when government function -- 'Back to Village’ programme -- was taking place, killing a Congress party’s sarpanch, and an agriculture officer, and injuring three others.

According to police sources, the militants first lobbed grenade towards the ‘Back to Village’ party and then opened fire on them. The incident took place around 3:30 p.m. The police said that the officer Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh and the sarpanch Peer Mohammad Rafiq were taking photos after hearing grievances outside the Panchayat when they were attacked. The photo-ops are essential component of the ‘Back to Village’ campaign.

J&K’s Congress President GA Mir lashed out at the government after the attack, calling ‘Back to Village’ programme a 'hoax'.

“Political leaders are in custody and the government is organising these shows just to project situation in Kashmir as normal,” Mir said, adding that the killed sarpanch was good social worker of the area and belonged to Congress.

Mir alleged that no security was provided to the sarpanch and other officials during the programme.

The government, however, said the militant attack will not stop the programme. “Militant attacks have happened earlier as well. The attack will not stop the programme,” says Sheetal Nanda, Secretary Rural Development Department.

The 'Back to Village' outreach programme is aimed to provide governance at doorsteps of the rural population.

From November 25 to November 30, the government will send 5000 gazetted officers and 657 UT and Directorate Level officers to visit their assigned panchayats to receive first-hand appraisal reports at the grass root level about developmental work. This is the second phase of the programme.

In June this year when the government had launched the campaign, it had invoked positive response from people. However, this time the programme is not getting any response.

According to Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam’s directive each officer is assigned a gram panchayat by the DCs, where he/she will stay for at least two days including a night stay in the village. The directive is that DCs will also stay for a night in a Panchayat Halqa along with the visiting officers. Lieutenant Governor, Advisors, Chief Secretary and other senior officers will be visiting various Panchayats in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions between November 25 to November 30.

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