PoJK’s Muzaffarabad paralysed by strike amid police crackdown

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Muzaffarabad [PoJK]: A manifestation of dissent unfolded in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), as a wheel-jam and shutter-down strike paralysed the city. This protest was catalysed by a call from a people’s action committee, denouncing a recent police crackdown, Dawn reported.

Reportedly, clashes erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators across various neighbourhoods, persisting until late into Friday evening. The tumultuous scenes were marked by stone-pelting and intense teargas shelling, amplifying tensions in the region.

The strike was prompted by the arrests of numerous leaders and activists from the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee in overnight police raids across Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions. This pre-emptive action galvanised the committee to mobilise support for their cause, as reported by Dawn.

Scheduled for May 11, a long march towards Muzaffarabad was announced by the committee last month, emphasising widespread participation from across the state. At the heart of this movement lies a fervent objection to what is perceived as unjust taxation on electricity bills. Last year, a similar shutter-down strike was orchestrated, echoing the demand for fair electricity pricing aligned with the production costs of hydel power in PoJK.

Despite prior negotiations and a subsequent government notification in February, grievances persisted, culminating in the decision to stage a long march in protest against unmet commitments. The ramifications of this strike were palpable throughout Muzaffarabad, with businesses shuttered, banks closed, and streets devoid of traffic and vendors. In the face of adversity, demonstrators rallied, reaffirming their unwavering dedication to securing their rights.

Shaukat Nawaz Mir, a prominent figure in the movement who narrowly evaded arrest, emerged as a leading voice, addressing gatherings across the town, underscoring the resolve to persevere in their struggle, Dawn reported.

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