Srinagar, Dec 25: Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to treat Panchayat members and Councilors as “VIPs” during Republic Day functions in the new Union Territory.

Sources said with most of the leaders in jail, Panches, Sarpanches and Councilors are being groomed as an alternative leadership to fill the political void in the valley.

 

An official at Srinagar Deputy Commissioner’s office said Councilors, Panches, Sarpanches and Chairperson of Block Development Councils would be invited as VIPs to attend Republic Day functions at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here.

Likewise, Panches, Sarpanches and Chairperson of Block Development Councils of other districts would also be treated as VIPs for Republic Day functions in their respective places.

Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor, reveals that the district development commissioner Srinagar has been directed to prepare the list of invitees.  “Invitees shall include VVIP and VIPs including chairperson BDCs, Panches, Sarpanches and Councilors,” the document reads. 

Last year, elections were held in 79 urban local bodies in which 1145 councilors were elected. Similarly, elections were also conducted in 4483 Panchayat Halqas in which 35029 Panches and 4483 Sarpanches were elected.

Earlier, top leaders of political parties were being invited as VIPs who would sit on the front rows.  

The government has also directed all heads of departments to ensure attendance of employees at Republic Day functions. “Those who fail to attend Republic Day function shall be dealt strictly according to law,” a government order reads.

Since 2017, the government has been holding main function of Republic Day and Independence Day at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium instead of Bakshi Stadium.

Police and security agencies have been directed to ensure fool proof security arrangements in and around the venue.

“An extensive plan shall be prepared by police department encompassing vital areas, movements and entries. Firm barricades should be erected in and around the venue taking into consideration the security concerns,” the document reads. 

A senior official said that security would be strengthened in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, Rajbagh, Dal Gate and Sonawar areas. “The security agencies have been directed to take extra measures this time,” the official said.

The official said that road from Radio Kashmir to Sonawar road would remain closed for few days before January 26.  The SSP security has been directed to ensure arrangement of bullet proof kiosk for VIPs along with dais.

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