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Sarpanch asks for bus service, ‘thrashed’

Srinagar, May 31: A newly elected sarpanch from a remote Handwara village today alleged that an assistant commissioner thrashed him when he approached the bureaucrat for a bus service for students of his area.

Jahama village sarpanch Tahir Ahmad Mir had, along with dozens of students, approached Farooq Ahmad Rather, the assistant commissioner, general administration.

“First he kept us waiting for a long time. He got irritated by our entreaties and said it was none of his business to arrange buses for students. He abused us and later started beating me with a stick,” Mir said.

The sarpanch, along with his supporters, later sat on a dharna but official sources said the local administration did not take any action against Rather till chief minister Omar Abdullah got wind of the alleged incident.

“I have asked for orders to be issued for the attachment of the SDM (assistant commissioner) pending an enquiry into the matter,” Omar tweeted.

An official said Rather had been attached to the district magistrate’s office and the assistant commissioner, revenue, at Kupwara given charge of Handwara.

Mir said some 60 to 70 students of his area had asked him to approach the officer for a proper bus service to Handwara Degree College and schools in the town. “They miss the morning classes because of improper service,” he said.

This is not the first time bureaucrats or top police officers in Kashmir have been accused of highhandedness. Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed had last year surrendered his security cover after police allegedly maltreated him.

Mir’s allegation came on a day a former separatist, Mohammad Abbas, won elections for the post of sarpanch from Pattan block in north Kashmir.

The state has witnessed over 78 per cent voter turnout in the 12 phases held so far in the 16-phase panchayat polls. People have come out to vote in large numbers despite a boycott call by Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

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