Neelum Valley observes shutdown against banned militant groups
Muzaffarabad, Aug 5: Residents of Neelum valley in Pakistan administered Kashmir on Sunday observed a shutdown against activities of outlawed militant groups in the area.
Witnesses said a complete strike was observed with residents announcing to launch a ‘forceful agitation’ against alleged activities of some outlawed militant groups as talks between locals and an official team failed to arrive at any decision.
During the talks, former PaK minister Mufti Mansoor ur Rehman, Neelum Bar Association president Mir Gohar Rehman, Mir Nazir Danish and several others briefed the official team, comprising commissioner Muzaffarabad division Sardar Zafar Khan and DIG Khalid Mahmood Chauhan on the “looming threat to Neelum Valley’s peace in the wake of dangerous activities of proscribed militant groups.”
The talks which were held in a government guesthouse at Athmuqam, some 80 kilometres northeast of here, followed a protest march on Friday during which similar demands were made by the residents.
Neelum valley straddles the Line of Control (LoC) which was the scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Indian and Pakistani troops, causing mostly civilian causalities, until both sides struck a historic ceasefire on November 26, 2003.
“The activities of the banned outfits have caused serious concern from one end of the Neelum valley to the other and we will not allow anyone to use our territory for ‘terrorist activities’ against anyone,” the official team was told by the residents, according to witnesses.
The residents recalled that they had already suffered worst physical and material losses in the days of escalation along the LoC and could not afford its recurrence in the aftermath of any misadventure.
They demanded that the law enforcement agencies should immediately expel all those elements from the Neelum Valley “which were bent upon ruining its peace and tranquility for vested interests.”
Otherwise, they threatened, Neelum valley people would launch a forceful protest drive.
The official team assured them that their demands would be presented to the high-ups and in the meanwhile they should end their protest.
Syed Naseer Kazmi, a member of Neelum Bar, told reporters that talks had failed and their protest against the outlawed militant groups would continue.
“We will stage a complete wheel jam strike in the Neelum valley on August 9,” he said.
Last year, when three Pakistani soldiers were killed in unprovoked Indian shelling, the valley residents, fearful of the pre-ceasefire nightmarish conditions, had taken out a rally in Athmuqam on the day of Eidul Fitr, calling upon Islamabad and New Delhi to exercise restraint and maintain truce along the dividing line.
“Some people seem to be averse to the peace along the Line of Control… But the residents Neelum valley will not tolerate any attempt to spoil peace and instead will condemn and resist it,” a resolution passed on the occasion had said.
Prior to that, in July 2008 around four dozen women, led by one Chand Bibi, had staged a barefoot march and a symbolic sit-in in Athmuqam against the “growing activities of some militant groups” which they feared could harm the truce along the LoC.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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