AJK protests persist into third consecutive day

Internet services remained disrupted across region, including Mirpur Division

Our Correspondent May 12, 2024


The Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) continued its strike in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) for the third consecutive day on Sunday to implement a 10-point charter of demands.

Due to the strike, life came to a standstill in Muzaffarabad, with public transport, shops, markets, and business centers remaining closed.

The protestors also continued their long march toward the region’s capital from Mirpur, Bhimber, and Kotli areas despite obstacles set up by the government.

Clashes also erupted between police and demonstrators, resulting in injuries to two police officials. Tensions also persisted across all districts, including Muzaffarabad.

Internet services remained disrupted across the AJK, including the Mirpur Division, causing difficulties for residents.

In response to the violent protests, the AJK government called in paramilitary Rangers on Sunday to secure key government installations including the legislative assembly, the Supreme Court, the High Court, and other important government buildings.

Ranger vehicles entered the AJK borders via Kohala Bridge. However, the paramilitary troops withdrew from the region after intervention of President Asif Ali Zardari.

In a press conference, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq stated that since day one, the government has been committed to providing relief to the citizens.

“We adhere to the agreement made with JAAC. Despite the martyrdom of our police officer, the government has refrained from the use of force and displayed tolerance,” he said. He criticized the propaganda on social media, emphasizing public security as his priority.

The PM reaffirmed that the government has not backed down from negotiations and extended an invitation to representatives of the committee for talks.

Read Cop dies in AJK clashes over high power tariff

“The government is willing to provide relief in electricity and flour supply. Sacrifices will be made from development funds, and demands related to the Pakistani government will be raised at the federal level,” he added.

Meanwhile, funeral prayers of a policeman, Inspector Adnan Qureshi, who died during clashes with protestors on Saturday, were offered at the Quaid-e-Azam Stadium in the region’s capital.

On Sunday, the central leadership of JAAC dissociated itself from violent incidents that took place during their protest as well as an ongoing campaign against the state.

Members of the committee reiterated their commitment to conducting a peaceful movement and declared that any propaganda against the state of Pakistan on social media is “utterly unacceptable”.

“The insidious Indian media is fabricating baseless allegations to conceal Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. These allegations are devoid of any connection with reality,” JAAC said in a statement.

In December 2023, JAAC came to an agreement with an official reconciliation committee, followed by a government notification on February 4.

However, in April, the committee declared its intention to organize a long march on May 11, protesting the government's “failure” to fulfill its commitments. Last week, several JAAC members were arrested by police in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions.

The committee announced a strike on Friday as the AJK police blocked the arteries leading to Muzaffarabad and resorted to baton-charge and teargas shelling to disperse the protesters on Saturday. As the crackdown against the protesters continued, several people were taken into custody from different parts of the region.



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