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Friday June 14, 2024

Rangers called in as protests against inflation enter 3rd day in AJK

AAC central leadership distanced itself from the violent incidents

By Nausheen Yusuf & Waqar Satti & Web Desk
May 12, 2024
The picture shows people protesting in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. — X/@ansar22522
The picture shows people protesting in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. — X/@ansar22522

After violent protests erupted in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) killing a policeman and injuring many others, the regional government on Sunday has called in the Rangers.

The decision was taken on the call of Awami Action Committee (AAC) as the protests against the high electricity bills and taxes entered the third day. 

The development comes after clashes between the police and protestors erupted in Mirpur during demonstrations that killed a policeman and injured over 70.

Meanwhile, the central leadership of the AAC has distanced itself from the violent incidents that occurred during the protests.

One of the AAC members, Sajid Jagwal, said their movement is peaceful. He said that they have been sitting for two days and no incident has happened.

Another member, Tauseef Mansoor, said that the committee has nothing to do with the two to three incidents that have happened during the protests.

Anjuman Tajran President Sahabzada Waqas said that the protest weas not against the state or any institution.

"This army is ours and this country is ours. We are neither against the army nor against Pakistan or any other institution," said the president.

Yasir Hussain Naqvi, another member of the AAC, said that they are not persuasive of destruction as these are their properties. "These institutions are ours and police is ours," he added.

Naqvi further said that the demands of the protestors are legitimate, and there is no demand that cannot be resolved.

Mobile phone services suspended

Mobile phone and internet services were suspended in different parts of AJK today including Bhimber and Bagh Towns.

Meanwhile, in Mirpur, all the mobile networks and internet service have been suspended.

Govt ready to give relief

Earlier, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq said that the government was ready to give related relief in electricity and wheat flour prices after violent protests.

"The government held negotiations with the Awami Action Committee (AAC) and we reached to an agreement which we are determined to implement," assured PM Haq.

Speaking about the incident, PM Haq said that a cop was martyred due to the protests, however, the AJK police are showing patience during the siege and arson.

"We are ready to talk with AAC at any level and the demands related to the Government of Pakistan will be raised before the federation," said the prime minister.

The AJK PM said that the AAC announced a long march for their demands, however, there were some miscreants among the protestors. "The government ensured that no force was used during the protest," he said.

The premier said that public security was their priority and the AJK administration showed patience, adding that propaganda was being spread on social media.

PM Haq assured that in order to provide relief in wheat flour and electricity prices, the government will even slash the development budget if they have to.

'Demands should be met'

AJK Peoples Party President Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin said that the demands of the protestors should be met. "Wheat flour and electricity are cheap in Gilgit Baltistan, then why can't it be cheap in AJK? he questioned.

Yasin lamented that the problem is that AJK PM thinks he knows everything which is why the state and the people are facing each other today.

Expressing sorrow over Mirpur Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Adnan Qureshi's death, Yasin said that the protestors are also suffering and it also will harm the state.

"Peoples Party condemns the use of force, arrests and violence against the people and all such policies of the AJK government," he added.

Zardari calls emergency meeting

On the other hand, President Asif Ali Zardari called an emergency meeting related to the situation in AJK at the President's House on Monday (tomorrow), said sources.

The sources added that the president instructed stakeholders to bring proposals to resolve the issue.

AJK protests

The AAC called for a shutter down and wheel-jam strike across the state to protest the electricity price hike and taxes. However, the situation escalated as the protestors and police clashed.

A sub-inspector was killed while dozens other policemen and protesters also got injured during the teargas shelling by the police and stone pelting by the demonstrators.

The violent protesters damaged multiple vehicles, including a magistrate’s car at the Poonch-Kotli road. Moreover, markets, trade centres, offices and schools and restaurants remained closed across the AJK.

Police also launched a crackdown against the protesters after the events of violence, arresting dozens of individuals in the AJK capital.

On Friday, more than 40 people, including 11 policemen, were injured as a result of stone pelting and clashes.

The AJK government had banned public gatherings, rallies, and processions in all districts in the wake of AAC protests, with Section 144 imposed in the entire region.