Neelum valley residents observe black day
22 August 2007
Muzaffarabad: Residents of the Neelum valley observed a ‘black day’ on Wednesday and took out a procession in the district headquarters Athmuqam to protest against the government failure in providing them with basic amenities. The demonstration, held under the aegis of lawyers, traders and journalists organisations, was triggered by Monday’s road accident in the valley that killed 29 people and injured 10 others. Residents blamed poor conditions of the roads for the incident. Addressing the demonstrators, speakers castigated the government for ‘turning a blind eye’ to the dilapidated Neelum valley road, which they claimed had literally turned into a ‘death trap’. They said that although the valley contributed substantially to the state exchequer, yet nothing was done to improve its condition. The speakers criticised the government for not allowing cellular companies to operate in the valley under the pretext of security. If mobile phones could be used along the Wagah border and in most tribal areas of Pakistan and in the Chakothi sector, then why their valley had been deprived of this facility, they asked. Some speakers regretted that the valley’s political leaders lacked farsightedness due to which the problems of its residents were not reaching appropriate forums. The demonstrators warned that if their demands, including improvement of the main Neelum valley road, were not met soon then they would take extreme steps, the responsibility of which would rest with the government.