Monday June 24, 2024

Protesters refuse to go home despite PM Shehbaz's approving Rs23bn for AJK

PM Shehbaz summoned special meeting keeping in view the situation of Azad Jammu and Kashmir

By Web Desk
May 13, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presiding over the high-level meeting in Islamabad over unrest in AJK on May 13, 2024. —PMO
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presiding over the high-level meeting in Islamabad over unrest in AJK on May 13, 2024. —PMO 

ISLAMABAD: Participants of Awami Action Committee (AAC)-led protest on Monday refused to end demonstration despite Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif okayed a Rs23 billion fund to address the problems faced by the people of Azad and Jammu Kashmir (AJK).

PM Shehbaz approved the fiscal grant in a special meeting in Islamabad keeping in view the demonstrations and protests in AJK against inflated electricity bills and taxes.

The forum, summoned over unrest in AJK, was presided by the PM and attended by federal ministers and leaders of the allied parties. It reviewed the developing situation of the territory thoroughly.

The Kashmiri leadership and participants of the meeting thanked the premier for the financial aid.

Meanwhile, AJK Chief Secretary Muhammad Usman Chachar said a deal regarding the AAC’s demands had been reached. He told that internet services in AJK were also restored.

Another casualty in AJK as clashes continue

Despite the notification of subsidies and government's assurances, clashes between the AAC protestors with the 'law enforcement agencies' continued in Muzaffarabad. A man was injured during the clashes, who later succumbed to his wounds.

It may be noted that a policeman was also killed during the clashes on Saturday. 

AAC leadership awaits govt notification

However, AAC leader Shaukat Nawaz said that he refuses to end the protest until they received the notification regarding acceptance of their demands.

“Promises have been made in the past as well to dissolve protests. (This time) we will not return believing the political promises,” he said, adding that the government’s seriousness would be trusted when notification regarding resolution of their demands would reach them.

Nawaz said they would end the protest by reading the notification to the people.

4th day of demonstrations

Earlier today, a long march led by the AAC left for AJK capital, Muzaffarabad on the fourth day of the wheel-jam strike.

Protestors staged sit-ins, closing Kohala–Muzaffarabad Road at several locations. The road stretches 40 kilometres and links Kohala town with Muzaffarabad in AJK. The protesters are expected to take the same road from Dhirkot to reach the capital.

The government of AJK called in the Rangers and AJK police after clashes between the police and protestors erupted in Mirpur during demonstrations that killed a cop and injured more than 70 others a couple of days ago.

Heavy contingents of police were posted at roundabouts and sensitive locations, while markets, trade centres and educational institutes remain closed. Transportation is also suspended.

Expressing deep concerns over the violent clashes between the AJK police and the protesters, PM Shehbaz on Sunday said that there should be “absolutely no tolerance for taking the law in one’s own hands".

The premier further said that he had spoken to AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq and also directed all Pakistan Muslim League-N office bearers in AJK to talk to the leaders of the action committee.

“I urge all parties to resort to peaceful course of action for resolution of their demands. Despite best efforts of detractors, the matter will hopefully be settled soon.”

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.

A day earlier, the government also suspended mobile phone and internet services in different parts of AJK including Bhimber and Bagh Towns.

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