New Delhi: The Centre has decided to back the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir Governor to hold the local body elections in the state, irrespective of the boycott call given by the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A top official in the Home Ministry told CNN-News 18, "Security is a concern, but a conscious decision has been taken to give precedence to grassroots democracy.'
Another source confirmed the decision and said the boycott call given by the NC and the PDP was immaterial as Panchayat elections are not held on the party lines.
BJP in-charge of Kashmir, Ram Madhav, has also asked PDP and NC to reconsider their decision. Speaking to reporters in Srinagar, Madhav said, "Militants have been trying to deprive Kashmiris of their democratic rights since long. They will try to disrupt the upcoming panchayat polls."
Close to 40,000 panchayat seats and 1,145 wards are up for grabs in the eight-phase long election, which is scheduled for October and November this year.
Though the Centre is considering providing security to the candidates, officials acknowledged that it would be a mammoth task.
"Even if three candidates stand per seat, security has to be provided to over one lakh people, which is not easy," an official said.
Police officials told CNN-News18 that they are assessing the security threat constituency wise and one way out could be to give security only in areas that are most under threat. Around 237 companies of para military forces, which were deployed for Amarnath Yatra, have been asked to stay on in the valley.
Adding to the challenge is the threat to the special police officers and police personnel. According to sources, 15 SPOs have resigned in the last few days citing threat to their lives and the well-being of their families. The union government though has played down the resignations.
"There are thirty six thousand SPOs in the valley. On an average 1,000 retire every year. In comparison, 15 is a small number," a MHA official said.
The Municipal elections are being conducted in Kashmir in a gap of 13 years with the last elections being held in 2005.