Saturday, May 18th, 2024

PoJK: Awami Action Committee vows to continue protests amid security forces crackdown

The Awami Action Committee in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) has vowed to continue protests amid police action on peaceful protesters in Muzaffarabad.

Protests against price rise turned violent on Friday when police cracked down on protesters in the capital Muzaffarabad. The wheel jam and shutter-down strike brought the city to a standstill and normal activities were disrupted.

Shaukat Nawaz Mir, a leading figure of the movement, narrowly escaped arrest and emerged as a leading voice, addressing meetings across the city and stressing their determination to continue their struggle.

“Put any tag on us, but as long as God is with us, you cannot harm us. Let us live in peace. If you again raid people’s houses and arrest them, there will be no peace. I am saying this openly,” Shaukat Nawaz Mir said in his address.

He said, “I appeal to everyone to save their area, save their identity. If identity remains intact, everything will be possible; Otherwise, nothing can be achieved. I have faith in all of you that you will fight this long battle and achieve success. The battle has to be fought peacefully and by protecting ourselves. “If you don’t stay on the ground, it will be difficult to fight.”

The Awami Action Committee called for protests demanding tax-free electricity from Mangala Dam and subsidy on wheat flour.

The strike was prompted by overnight police raids which resulted in the arrest of several leaders and activists. Clashes broke out between law enforcement and protesters in Muzaffarabad, Dadial, Mirpur and other parts of PoJK.

Reports indicate that Pakistan’s security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters. Tear gas and bullets were used against unarmed civilians allegedly exercising their right to protest.

A protester and senior citizen, whose house was raided by security forces, said, “My house was raided last evening, and another attempt was made this morning, but I stopped them. Those who are with the action committee are not going to back down.

Last year, a similar shutter-down strike took place, resonating the demand for fair power pricing in line with the production cost of hydropower in PoJK.

Despite prior negotiations and a subsequent government notification in February, grievances persisted, leading to a decision to hold a long march in protest against unfulfilled commitments.

The impact of the strike was evident throughout Muzaffarabad, with businesses closed, banks closed, and streets devoid of traffic and vendors.

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