“Azadi”: Huge Protests, Clashes With Cops In Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir – NDTV

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Protests broke out in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for freedom

Srinagar/New Delhi:

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has been hit by civilian unrest and a massive crackdown has been launched by the authorities to quell protests that have spread across the occupied region.

A police officer was killed and 90 others were injured in fresh clashes on Saturday.

The protests that started against inflation, high taxation, and electricity shortage have turned into a movement for rights and freedom across PoK.

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Protesters have been shouting slogans for “azadi (freedom)”. They clashed with police and security agencies in Muzaffarabad and others districts.

The protests are spearheaded by Jammu and Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee, with traders are on the forefront.

Dozens of leaders and members of the Action Committee have been arrested after they called the strike on Friday.

“There is going to be a complete shutter-down and wheel-jam strike observed across PoK and specifically in Muzaffarabad against the police brutality against our peaceful protesters in Dadyal,” said Saukat Nawaz Mir, chairman of the Traders Association Muzaffarabad and member of the Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee, news agency IANS reported.

“I call on everyone to come out today and raise your voice for your rights,” he added as videos of locals demanding freedom from the Pakistani establishment went viral.

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The committee had staged a similar protest in August 2023 as well.

“We reject imposition of taxes on electricity bills. Instead, we demand that electricity should be provided to consumers in accordance with the production cost of hydel power in the region,” said Shaukat Nawaz Mir.

On May 5, emphasising that PoK has always been a part of India, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said the “very sorry state of affairs” has continued because the earlier governments did not ensure Pakistan vacated the region after Independence.

“PoK has never been out of this country. It has always been a part of this country. There is a resolution of the Indian parliament that PoK is very much a part of India. Now, how did other people get control? Ab ho jaata hai (it happens) when you have someone who is not a responsible custodian of a house, an outsider will come and steal something,” Mr Jaishankar said during an interactive session in Odisha’s Cuttack.

“Here you have allowed another country… It was because we did not pursue the vacation of Pakistan from these territories in the early years of Independence that this very sorry state of affairs has continued. What will happen in the future is very difficult to tell. But, I always tell people one thing that today PoK is in the consciousness once again of the people of India. We had forgotten about it, we were made to forget about it, but it is back now, definitely,” he added.

It was not the first time Mr Jaishankar blamed the previous Congress governments for several problems that had emerged on the foreign policy front, post Independence. A week earlier in Hyderabad, he told a gathering that Sardar Patel had opposed India approaching the UN on the Kashmir issue, but India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru disregarded it.

With inputs from IANS

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