Home ยป Deadly Clashes in Azad Jammu and Kashmir Amid Protests Over Utility Costs

Deadly Clashes in Azad Jammu and Kashmir Amid Protests Over Utility Costs

by Mohammed Ahmed

Azad Jammu and Kashmir witnessed severe unrest on Saturday as clashes between police and activists of the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) escalated during a territory-wide strike. The violence, which aims to pressure the government for lower electricity and flour prices, resulted in the death of Sub-inspector Adnan Qureshi and left more than 90 others injured.

The JAAC, prominently supported by local traders, has been vocal in its demands for economic relief, including subsidized wheat flour and electricity priced according to hydropower generation costs. The escalation followed the arrest of approximately 70 JAAC activists during police raids, sparking intense confrontations in various districts, including Dadyal and Kotli.

Authorities responded by placing barricades on major routes to prevent demonstrators from reaching Muzaffarabad, the state capital. However, this move led to further clashes, notably at key locations such as Tanga Stand, Aziz Chowk, and Shah Sultan Bridge, where protesters resorted to stone-throwing and bottling against law enforcement personnel.

The situation remains volatile, with reports of complete shutdowns in divisions like Muzaffarabad and Poonch, as traders and civilians join the protests, severely impacting daily life and the local economy. The government claims to have reached an agreement with the JAAC, which included provisions for targeted subsidies and fixed electricity tariffs, but disagreements on the implementation led to renewed protests.

Regional political leaders, including former AJK premier Raja Farooq Haider and PTI senior leader Omar Ayub, have expressed serious concerns over the handling of the protests by the current administration. They urge for peaceful resolutions and warn against the excessive use of force, which they claim could further destabilize the region.

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