PoJK: Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee announces shutter-down strike after police crackdown

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Muzaffarabad [PoJK]: The Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee has announced that it will hold a “shutter-down and wheel-jam” strike in Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) today, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.

It announced the decision after the police reportedly detained as many as 70 activists in a bid to prevent a ‘long march’ announced by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee to call on the government to comply with an agreement reached between the two in February.

The public action committee has been leading a rights movement to hold protests against the ‘unjust’ taxes that have been imposed on electricity bills and held a shutter-down strike over the taxes in August 2023, Dawn reported.
The protesters have demanded that electricity should be provided to consumers as per the production cost of hydel power in PoJK. After protests were held for months, a ministerial committee vowed that the cost would be worked out “because the government was committed to providing relief to its people.”

Earlier in April, the committee had announced that they would hold a march in Muzaffarabad on May 11 to protest the “non-fulfilment of the commitments” made in writing by an official reconciliation committee of cabinet members on December 23, 2023, in pursuance of a notification issued on February 4, 2024, Dawn reported.

On Thursday, police in Muzaffarabad carried out raids at the residence of Shaukat Nawaz Mir, the elected leader of traders, and several other members of the action committee. During these raids, eight committee members, including two student leaders, were detained.

The protests of more than a dozen activists in overnight raids in Mirpur’s Dadyal led to clashes following traders’ protest at Maqbool Butt Shaheed Chowk. Police used teargas against the protesters, which also landed in a school and injured several girls, according to Dawn report.

Traders pelted stones at the police. In response to the crackdown, Nawaz Mir released a video message from a hideout, saying that the protest scheduled for May 11 will now be held on May 10 due to the “brutal attitude” of authorities in Dadyal.

Earlier, the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) and the Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) issued serious warnings to the administration against the use of any brutal force against peaceful protestors.
Both parties have released warnings that they will organize international protests and demonstrations if the administration uses any force against the protestors who are raising their legitimate demands.

Currently, personnel from the Frontier Corps, Rangers, and Quick Response Force (QRF) of Punjab Province are on the streets of the area. According to a joint statement issued by the UKPNP and JAAC, the demonstrators are protesting and unjustified taxation, high electricity bills, uncontrolled inflation, severe shortages of essentials like and flour.

In addition, the people also demand ownership of local land and water resources and royalties to locals over the hydroelectric power produced in dams located in PoJK and Pakistan-Occupied Gilgit Baltistan.
UKPNP chairman Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri and JAAC’s former spokesperson Sardar Nasir Aziz Khan said that despite billions of dollars of remittances sent annually by the Kashmiri diaspora for the development of PoJK and POGB the people of these areas suffer from severe underdevelopment.

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