PoK Protests: Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on Boil As 3 Civilians Shot Dead During Clashes

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Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: At least three civilians were killed and several others injured after the Pakistani Rangers, a paramilitary force operating under the Pakistan Army, on Monday opened fire at them, who were protesting against rising prices in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The incident happened on a day when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced the immediate release of PKR 23 billion for the region after an emergency meeting took place in Islamabad amid rising clashes.

Pakistan’s Friday Times reported that the latest tensions stem from the non-cooperation movement, which began a year ago to protest against rising electricity bills and flour prices.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir The peaceful protest turned violent on Friday when local police and federal forces, like the Frontier and Punjab constabularies, sent by Islamabad to protect Chinese workers and projects in the region, cracked down on the protesters. On Saturday, there were violent clashes between the police and civilians in PoK during a strike that paralysed the area. One police officer was killed, and over 90 people were injured in the clashes, as reported by Dawn.

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Videos circulating on social media depicted civilians chasing and attacking police officers on Saturday, following a day of intense police action against protesters, which included the use of batons, tear gas, and road blockades.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

The rangers were called in to maintain the law and order situation in the region and were supposed to return after the PM’s announcement. Dawn reported that instead of moving through Brarkot, they chose to exit via Kohala. As they reached Muzaffarabad, the atmosphere was charged and they faced stone pelting near Shorran da Nakka village, to which they responded with teargas and firing.

Viral videos showed three ranger vehicles set ablaze on the Muzaffarabad-Brarkot road.

A spokesperson of the PoK government Abdul Majid Khan, speaking to Arab News, said, “Despite the issuance of notifications to reduce electricity and wheat prices, along with addressing other demands, protesters attacked a Rangers convoy, leading to an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the death of three civilians and many injuries on both sides.”

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As per reports, the new electricity tariff sets prices at 3 per unit for 1 to 100 units, 5 per unit for 100 to 300 units, and 6 per unit for over 300 units. Commercial rates are 10 per unit for up to 300 units and 15 per unit beyond that. Additionally, the cost of flour bags has been significantly reduced. A 20 kg bag is now 1000, down from 1550, and a 40 kg bag is 2000, reduced from 3100.

Taking place under the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) banner, the protests have been led by traders. The protestors are demanding electricity provisions, subsidised wheat and an end to privileges for the elites. Police detained around 70 activists on May 9 and 10 to stop a planned long march by the JAAC. This led to intense clashes in Dadyal and sparked a large-scale “shutter-down strike”.

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