Unrest In Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir: Security Forces’ Clash With Protesters Leaves 3 Dead, 6 Injured | World News

At least three people were killed and six others injured when security forces opened fire on protesters during clashes with paramilitary Rangers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad, which has been rocked by protests over high wheat flour prices and inflated electricity bills, according to a media report. The paramilitary Rangers, who had been called in to maintain law and order in the disputed region, were attacked as they were leaving, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported. 

The 19-vehicle convoy, which included five trucks, chose to leave the region through Kohala rather than Brarkot, a village bordering Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to the report. As the convoy approached Muzaffarabad in a “charged atmosphere,” it was pelted with rocks near Shorran da Nakka village, prompting them to respond with tear gas and firing, according to the report.

After entering the city via the Western Bypass, the Rangers were met with rocks, prompting them to use tear gas and bullets. According to the report, the shelling was so intense that it left the entire neighbourhood reeling.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a Pakistani Rs 23 billion subsidy for immediate release to the region yesterday, after protesters and the regional government failed to reach an agreement.

However, the government’s decision to provide the subsidy did not satisfy the region, according to the report.

Over 100 people, mostly police officers, were injured in Saturday’s clashes between police and activists of a rights movement in the disputed region, which resulted in the death of at least one police officer. Since Friday, there has also been a total strike in the area, which has stopped all activity.

Prior to the violence, a meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and the “prime minister” of the disputed region, Anwarul Haq, approved the release of Rs 23 billion from Pakistan for the region to use for wheat and power subsidies.

The 40kg flour subsidised rate has been reduced from Pakistani Rs 3,100 to Rs 2,000. A reduction in the electricity tariff was implemented, with units up to 100, 300, and over 300 units subject to rates of PKR 3, 5, and 6.

The Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) is leading the protest, with traders at the forefront in most parts of the region demanding electricity at the region’s hydropower generation cost, subsidised wheat flour, and an end to the elite class’s privileges.

The JAAC led a long march to Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, on Monday, as the wheel-jam strike entered its fourth day.

The movement announced its march to Muzaffarabad after talks between the JAAC core committee and the region’s Chief Secretary, Dawood Bareach, ended in a stalemate.

Prime Minister Sharif expressed deep concern over the violent clashes between police and protesters on Sunday, saying that “absolutely no tolerance for taking the law into one’s own hands” should be maintained.

“I urge all parties to pursue a peaceful resolution of their demands. Despite the best efforts of detractors, the matter should be resolved soon,” he stated.

As part of his efforts to defuse tensions, President Asif Ali Zardari urged all stakeholders to use restraint and resolve issues through dialogue and mutual consultation.


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