Protest continues as three more killed

The protesters set two official vans on fire

Our Correspondent May 14, 2024


Protest against inflation continued in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday as three more people died when law-enforcement personnel clashed with protesters near Muzaffarabad late on Monday, raising the overall death toll from the five days of protests to four.

Thousands of people, led by the Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) have rallied since Friday, with more than 10,000 turning out on Monday despite government announcement of a financial package of billions of rupees to provide subsidies on flour prices and electricity tariffs.

“Three protesters have been killed, all of whom were shot, and currently there are eight reported injuries,” Muzaffarabad Deputy Commissioner Nadeem Janjua told AFP. One policeman was killed during violence in Mirpur on Saturday.

Doctors at the Combined Military Hospitals (CMH) in Muzaffarabad earlier told AFP that two people, including a teenaged boy, had died from gunshot wounds. One doctor also said that many law-enforcement personnel were injured but the data regarding that was yet to be compiled.

JAAC had started its march on Thursday, seeking provision of electricity as per hydropower generation cost, subsidised wheat flour, and an end to the privileges for the elite class. JAAC announced a strike for Friday as the AJK police blocked the arteries leading to Muzaffarabad.

On Saturday, violent clashes between the police and JAAC activists erupted in Mirpur. A local government official told Reuters that one police official was killed and over 90 were injured when thousands of people clashed with police.

Earlier, AJK Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Chaudhry announced that a financial package of subsidies for electricity and flour had been arranged. In Islamabad, the Prime Minister Office said that Shehbaz Sharif had ordered immediate release of Rs23 billion to provide relief to the people of AJK.

However, the protest continued despite the announcement of the package of subsidies. JAAC leader Sardar Saqib Shaheen told AFP that negotiations were ongoing. “Some demands were met and some were not,” he told a press conference in Islamabad.

Reports from the region stated that the fresh clashes erupted as protester march towards Muzaffarabad. The law-enforcement personnel were called from Brarkot, where they came under attack and in retaliation a protester received bullet wounds and died on way to a hospital.

The protesters set two official vans on fire. Two others protesters were killed in Plate and Chelabandi. The Muzaffarabad commissioner identified the dead protesters as Saqib, son of Shabir from Plate; Waqar son of Babu from Dara Batangi and Azhar son of Majeed from Chehlabandi.

In the wee hours of Tuesday, the JAAC protesters were camped at the Agro Tech College Ground in Muzaffarabad along with two bodies. The JAAC had announced to observe a ‘black day’ on Tuesday (today) to condemn the killing of three youth.



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