(An excerpt from article “PaK: Ethnicity, Democracy and Islam” taken from book titled “Of Occupation and Resistance, Writings from Kashmir”)
By Mazhar Iqbal
Those who have a difference of opinion with the official position are considered troublemakers. They have to face arrests and disappearances, financial losses, fake criminal cases in courts and in some cases, extra-judicial killings. Innocent people are forced to join with fundamentalist organisations. In the autumn of 2011, the residents of Neelum Valley complained about renewed guerrilla activity in their area. This border district has been used as the staging post for guerrillas entering Jammu and Kashmir right since the 1990s.
A local civil society organisation, Press for Peace (PFP) claimed that a large number of women protested against the activities of some banned guerrilla groups in the Neelum Valley. According to the PFP, the women also approached the Pakistani army in Athmuqam – the district headquarters of Neelum Valley – and urged the officers to stop the ‘militants’ from crossing into the Indian side of Kashmir. Their main fear was that guerrilla activity in their area would once again adversely affect the relative peace that had held on both sides of the LoC since the 2003 ceasefire. With memories of regular crossfire along the LoC still fresh, their fear was that the presence of guerrilla organisations in the area would adversely affect their lives.