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J&K: DDC Members Boycott Workshop, Protest Demanding Better Status

Anees Zargar |
The protest comes after the authorities in the Union Territory issued a warrant of precedence, defining the powers of the recently elected representatives, which, according to the representatives, render them powerless.
DDC protest

Image Source: Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: The newly elected District Development Council (DDC) members boycotted a two days long training and workshop program, to hold a protest against the government in Jammu city on Tuesday, March 9.

The DDC members claim that they are being rendered powerless and the honorarium announced for them is too less. The protest comes after the authorities in the Union Territory issued a warrant of precedence, defining the powers of the recently elected representatives. 

The order places the chairpersons of DDCs at the same level as the administrative secretaries and inspector generals of police and that they will receive a monthly amount of around Rs 35,000. The members have been placed on the same level as the deputy commissioners with a monthly honorarium of Rs 15,000.

The protocol powers and the honorarium, according to members, has disappointed them. 

The DDC members have decided to continue their protest and also threatened to resign unless the administrative order is rolled back. The demonstration was held by all members, including those from the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and Apni Party. 

A DDC member from Shopian district, Muzaffar Ahmad, alleged that the bureaucracy has been creating roadblocks for them. 

“The order is against us and totally against the promises that were made to us as DDCs. The new order demotes us and it is the bureaucracy that does not want to empower us. They want us to be puppets,” Muzaffar told NewsClick.

Also read: DDC Chairmanship Polls: PAGD Falls Behind Expectations

DDC member from Suchetgarh, T S Tony, said that all the DDCs unanimously decided to boycott the workshop as the promises made by Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on the floor of Parliament have not been respected. 

“We want the order to be cancelled and a new order to be issued after due consultation with the representatives of DDC. This order does not empower us but undermines it (the council),” the DDC member said.  

Senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami told NewsClick that the order is not as per the expectation, and added that the honorarium announced for the DDC members very less.

“The dissatisfaction is genuine and the government should make their efforts meaningful and respectful,” Tarigami said. 

The DDC elections were held in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in November and December last year – the first major electoral exercise since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A and subsequent bifurcation of the region into two UTs.

The DDC elections completed the 3-tier Panchayati system and have since been seen as a replacement to the traditional political structure in the region. 

Sajad Lone, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC), termed the fresh orders as “humiliating.”

“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 (sic),” Lone tweeted.

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