Women activists to form a cross-LoC coalition for peace in Kashmir

Now that a group of women activists from Jammu & Kashmir were allowed to cross over the Line of Control into `Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ (AJK) on Monday last for an intra-Kashmir cross-LoC dialogue in Muzaffarabad, the expectation is that such crossings will be facilitated by both countries to allow more such interactions.

At the end of the three-day meeting, the two sides sought a relaxation in the cross-LoC travel regime. In place of the current security clearance procedures involved in getting an entry permit, participants at the conference suggested a smart card to facilitate free movement of State subjects across the LoC. Also, they demanded that the travel facility be extended to post-1990 refugees living in `AJK’ besides hassle-free travel for senior citizens and provision for emergency travel.

The women decided to form a cross-LoC coalition for peace in Kashmir and act as an advocacy-cum-pressure group to make their voice heard. There will be a working group to develop a shared vision of peace in Kashmir and pursue the agenda of repairing fractured inter-community relations and bridging the perception gaps within and across divided J&K.

Other recommendations included consolidating the ceasefire on the LoC by relocating heavy artillery/mortars and removing landmines that obstruct free movement of people and cause civilian casualties; gradual demilitarisation, including that of Siachen glacier and turning it into a peace park; and providing justice to the victims of the conflict, especially widows, `half widows,’ disappeared persons, displaced/refugees and rehabilitation of youth.

They called for setting up an independent Truth & Reconciliation Commission in J&K to address grievances of victims of the conflict, ending human rights violations and scrapping draconian laws. This was the third such interaction between women peace activists on both sides of the divide; the earlier two were held in Srinagar and Gulmarg.