Lawlessness in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as Pakistani paramilitary Rangers called in to quell protests

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir witnessed violent clashes on Saturday between the police and activists of a rights movement amid a wheel-jam and shutter-down strike across the territory, leaving at least one police official dead and more than 90 others injured, as per Pakistani media report.

Mirpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kamran Ali told the media that Sub-inspector Adnan Qureshi succumbed to a gunshot wound in the chest in the town of Islamgarh where he was deployed along with other police personnel to stop a rally for Muzaffarabad via Kotli and Poonch districts under the banner of the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC).

The JAAC, which has traders at the forefront in most parts of the state, has been seeking the provision of electricity as per hydropower generation cost in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, subsidised wheat flour and an end to the privileges of the elite class that has backing from Pakistan.

In response to these protests, the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) government on Sunday deployed Rangers in Muzaffarabad and partially suspended internet to stop protesters from reaching the capital.

The PoK government sought help from Islamabad after yesterday’s violent protest who sent Rangers to control the situation.

On Wednesday-Thursday night, around 70 JAAC activists were arrested by police during raids at their residences and those of their relatives in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions, triggering serious clashes in Dadyal on Thursday.

The committee had subsequently announced a shutter-down and wheel-jam strike on Friday, a day ahead of its planned long march towards Muzaffarabad on Sunday.

Amid a crippling strike on Friday, fierce clashes between police and protesters were witnessed in different areas of Muzaffarabad.

JAAC spokesperson Hafeez Hamdani made it clear while talking to the media that the action committee had nothing to do with violence.

“It seems that such elements have been purposely planted in the ranks of protesters to bring a bad name to a struggle that aims nothing but the legitimate rights of the people,” he said.

Former AJK premier and senior PML-N leader Raja Farooq Haider urged the demonstrators to protest peacefully for resolution of their demands and not take the law into their hands and damage government properties.

He also offered his condolences for the sub-inspector’s death and called for an end to the “lawlessness”.

Former president Arif Alvi said the imagery coming out of AJK was the “real brutal input of those who think, believe and act on their rudimentary idea that: ‘Force is the only solution to all human problems.’”

As per latest reports, markets and business centers are all shut in the city while traffic has thinned out on roads as a complete wheel jam strike is being observed throughout PoK today.

Internet services have been suspended since last night.

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