Pro-India slogans in Neelum Valley rattle Islamabad

Story by  Aasha Khosa | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 29-07-2021
Locals in Sharda village protesting
Locals in Sharda village protesting


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi

When Pakistan opposition leader Maryam Nawaz posted a video clip of the people in Sharda village of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) in Neelum Valley bordering Kupwara of Jammu and Kashmir, protesting she has exposed their anger and frustration at being subjected to yet another round of fraudulent elections.

Imran Khan’s PTI apparently won in lowly participated elections that are often managed by Islamabad.

One of the slogans raised was “Kashmir banega Hindustan” (Kashmir (POK) will become India), triggering rage among the elite TV anchors in Islamabad studio who asked how could people in ‘Azad Kashmir’ cross red lines and others wondering whether Imran Khan has sown the seeds of another Bangladesh.

Sharda is a village that has the ruins of a 5000-year-old temple of Goddess Sharda. The temple ruins have got the civil societies of Kashmir across the line of control re-connected on social media and campaign for reopening it to pilgrims from India.

Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif shared the clip of a local journalist about Sharda incident on Twitter

The incident in Sharda in which two locals were killed and the SHO and the Deputy Commissioner were injured happened when a clash broke out between the Federal Constabulary of Pakistan and the local police in Sharda when the former tried to forcibly take vehicles of the locals for transporting them back to neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after rigging the election.

People were hugely upset with the naked rigging of elections by the Pakistani government agencies in favour of the PTI and their anger broke out when the personnel of the FCP tried to force women passengers in a private bus to come out so that they could use it.

As people raised slogans that were never heard of before, the police sided with the public as a result the  Pakistan Frontier Corps (PFC), a paramilitary force, personnel opened fire and killed two persons.

Local Journalist Ammar Massod and his wife posted a video clip on the social media in which they are explaining the process of rigging in elections.

They said the Army moves into the election scene and does its rehearsals for manipulating the elections. Firstly, they shoo away many voters by simply misguiding them about the polling booths and they invariably end up not voting; some are also disqualified under one or the other pretext.

The main rigging happens after the voting is over; The Army and Police then cast fake votes in favour of the party that is ruling in Islamabad, they alleged.

One of the local candidates of the Muslim League party whose camp office in a tent was forcibly removed said that “India is better for them under such circumstances.” “In India, they don’t do such frauds; we are will be better off there,” he said trigging angry and also thoughtful reactions on the media.

The government imposed a ban on the internet while people in the Valley has blocked the roads for outsiders.

“This is a dangerous development with regard to Kashmir; we are linked to Azad Kashmir by just a fragile thread and yet Islamabad doesn’t understand the local sensitivities it would prove disastrous,” said a commentator in one of the debate on a private Pakistani TV channel.

Did Imran Khan need to rig elections in POK to win?

History has it that Pakistan has always handled Azad Kashmir arbitrarily and placed the choicest person at the helm of affairs in this region. Once when Mian Abdul Qayoom was elected and after he had opposed Pakistan’s sponsoring of terrorism in J&K, he was not allowed to take the oath and was replaced by a person of Islamabad’s choice.

However, in this era of social media explosion, it’s hard to hide the fact and even harder to cheat the public and not allow their anger to manifest. 

In a TV debate, former member of Pakistan National Assembly Nabil Gobal said that while his party was given the committment of 16 seats but was only given 11. When the anchor asked who had promised him he sheepisly replied, " You name, I can't take names."

Another incident showing the growing hate and frustration of the locals towards Pakistan came to the fore when federal minister for Kashmir affairs Ali Amin Gandapur had come to Bhagh, a tehsil headquarters, and was hit with shoes and made to retreat. Gandapur was shown opening fire at the protesters.

Police arrested the shoew thrower but the locals attacked the police station and got him released. 

Later he was also barred by the  Election Commission from visiting POK as he was found involved in bribing people in lieu of voting for PTI.

The public is more angry as the PFC personnel who killed locals are unlikely to be punished or made to face the trial.

Prof Sajjad Raja, who hails from Poonch (POK) lives in exile in London while campaigingh for the unifiction of Jammu and Kashmir as an Indian territory, says that India should take note of the anger of the POK people. He posted a video from Sharda in which local police is seen challenging the PFC personnel:

 "Pakistan has no legal right over J&K and is an occupying forces," he said while talking to a TV news channel.