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Panchayat Elections-Panchayat Raj
   By V. K. Nakhasi

After a spell of long 32 years, the Jammu & Kashmir State fulfilled its commitment to hold Panchayat Elections in the State. In fact it was a long pending demand of the people especially living in the country sides of the State. Prior to eruption of militancy such elections were being held periodically at its appropriate time. But following militancy the process suffered disruption and the Panchayat Elections could not be held in time. The main aim of holding Panchayat Elections is to transfer maximum possible powers to the citizens through elected Panches & Sarpanches enabling them to establish an effective Panchayat Raj in the State so as to deliver proper justice even to those people who reside in remotest and other inaccessible areas. Soon after Panchayats are established in any area, Government is to ensure transfer of power, functions, corps and functionaries to Panchayats.

The decision to hold Panchayat Elections in the State is a historic one in view of the far reaching ramifications on various developmental and social aspects. The establishing of Panchayats is a very healthy step to establish democratic institutions at grass root level. When democratic set up is strong at lower levels, the democratic set up gets automatically strengthened at the State level in real sense. There are numerous development aspects and policy matters which need to be taken care of at the village levels also. Panchayats empower poor people living in far flung villages to take decisions about the developmental aspects as well as important roll in policy framing them. Duly elected Panches and Sarpanches become fully competent to look into the grievances of the locals and ensure the immediate redressal of the same through rational justice system. The Panchayat Raj in the State is aimed at to transfer power to people at grass root levels and empower the people’s representatives to introduce and launch such schemes as could specifically benefit people living in far off places and also coming from lower strata. Since the poor people hailing from remote areas generally do not have access to Secretariat level as such they could easily approach elected Panches and Sarpanches with their problems.

Panchayats would also contribute in reducing the elevated level of corruption by monitoring the execution of works by the Govt. agencies. The effective monitoring over such works at village level by Panches and Sarpanches would lead to implement the system of check and balance of the pace of work also. But at the same time, the Panches & Sarpanches also need to be sincere, honest and extraordinary responsive to the basic needs of the public. The voters who elect their Panches and Sarpanches always expect them to be upto their mark. So the voters are at liberty to watch the performance as well as the conduct of their Panches & Sarpanches in their areas as through their honest and best delivery of services, the areas could develop and progress on war-footing. As a matter of fact Panchayats are not supposed to concentrate only on rural developmental programmes but are also required to take care of other spheres of works and functions which include ensuring of proper functioning of educational institutions, medical centers, equitably distribution of essential commodities and other important matters of people concern. In order to carry forward this programme they need to generate coordinated approach in addressing people’s problems to fulfill their aspirations.

The people indeed have been exhibiting highly enthusiastic will to take part in ongoing Panchayat Elections. The voters turn out was found more than 85% in various areas. People exercised their vote of franchise freely to elect their Panches & Sarpanches. Almost all the Males & Females in every area showed their good interests in establishing Panchayat Raj in the state and thereby ignoring the threats posed by certain anti-national and militant outfits against the holding of Panchayat Elections. The Govt. has not also lagged behind in fulfilling their promise for people empowerment. It is hoped that all the elected Panches & Sarpanches would render their best part of the service aptitude & capacity while delivering proper justice to the poor people of the State. They should ensure that the feelings and sentiments of the poor people are regarded and respected with human heart.

Establishing of Panchayats in the State, especially in the valley would also keep in ensuring proper peace in the state as the people power empowerment can help in a big way to maintain conducive and peaceful environment in the State. The Panches & Sarpanches could also provide proper counseling to our youth in their respective areas which could definitely refrain them from indulging in any misdemeanors. The Panches & Sarpanches need to ensure full implementation of already enacted Panchayat Act in letter and sprit. While implementing the provisions of the Act, sincerity honesty coupled with devotion and dedication should be their sole benchmark.




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