STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: On the sixth day of 168-hour-long hunger strike launched by the All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) against non-clearance of Rs 1,000-crore MGNREGA liabilities, around 150 elected Sarpanchs and Panchs from Reasi District on Sunday joined the movement and held a strong demonstration. The agitated Sarpanchs and Panchs also torched the effigy of the Central Government for showing least concern in mitigating the sufferings of poor labourers who executed works under MGNREGA scheme three to four years ago but did not get their wages till date. The protesting Panchayat members also raised slogans against the Union Government and demanded that the Centre should immediately clear all liabilities under MGNREGA scheme and fulfill other genuine demands of Sarpanchs and Panchs in J&K without any delay. “The Centre’s much-talked slogans for empowering J&K Panchayats appear to be only on papers as the Union government has turned a blind eye to the miseries of poor labourers who are yet to yet their dues. The Sarpanchs and Panchs are also on roads in support of their demands but the government has become insensitive to all such issues,” the protesting Sarpanchs from Reasi district said. The protesting Panchayat members extended support to the hunger strike of AJKPC and said they would intensify their agitation if the Central government does not address the genuine issues of MGNREGA labourers, Sarpanchs and Panchs. Meanwhile, the condition of AJKPC president Anil Sharma and other Panchayat members, who have been observing hunger strike, deteriorated on the sixth day on Sunday. A team of doctors checked the body parameters of Sarpanchs sitting on hunger strike. “We want to assure the rural masses that we will fight for their genuine issues till the last breath. We will not succumb to the pressure tactics of authorities and will continue to fight their rights. We will not even bother to sacrifice our lives to ensure justice to poor labourers and rural masses,” said Anil Sharma, whose condition deteriorated today. Makhna Chaudhary BDC Chairman, Parveen Begum BDC Chairperson; Sarpanch(s) Kewal Singh, Raj Kumar, Akram Chaudhary, Noor Hussain, Ram Swaroop, Rohit Sharma, Rattan Lal, Des Raj Bhagat, Narinder Singh, Harjit Singh, Ashwani Sharma, Shokat Ali, Kartar Nath, Shamsher Singh, Haaji Bashir, Gulam Hussain, Ravi Kumar, Kabla Singh, Sansar Singh, Bal Krishan and Sanjeet Singh; Kartar Chand Naib Sarpanch and Narayan Singh were also present. The Sarpanchs and Panchs from various parts of Kashmir Valley and Jammu division continued their hunger strike at Dogra Chowk and raised noisy slogans against the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department and the Secretary of the Department Sheetal Nanda for misleading the Union Government and the Lieutenant Governor over MGNREGA issue. They also demanded adequate security cover to Sarpanchs and Panchs in vulnerable areas and enhancement of their monthly honorarium from existing Rs 2,500 (Sarpanch) and Rs 1,000 (Panch) to a respectable and reasonable amount.
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