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Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s capital witnesses clashes amidst total strike against police crackdown

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NewsDrum Desk
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Islamabad, Mar 11 (PTI) Businesses remained closed and normal life was affected during a crippling strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad to protest against a police crackdown, which led to a confrontation between the security forces and demonstrators, a local media report said on Saturday.

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The shutter-down and wheel-jam strike in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Muzaffarabad on Friday, on a call by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JKJAAC), also saw police resort to teargas shelling, affecting people in homes and mosques as well, after demonstrators pelted stones, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Protests were held in Samahni, Sehansa, Mirpur, Rawalakot, Khuiratta, Tattapani, Hattian Bala, all in PoK.

The JKJAAC gave the strike call for Friday after several of its leaders and activists were arrested by police in overnight raids in different parts of Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions, it said, adding that the committee had last month announced that people from across the state would stage a long march towards Muzaffarabad on May 11.

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The public action committee is a leading rights movement protesting the “unjust” taxes levied on electricity bills. It had observed a similar shutter-down strike in August last year.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Chief Secretary of the PoK had written to the Secretary of the Interior Division in Islamabad, requisitioning as many as six civil armed forces (CAF) platoons for security due to the May 11 strike.

Requesting the additional troops for three months, Chief Secretary Dawood Muhammad Bareach, in his letter of April 22, said: “We are (now) faced with calls for shutter down and wheel-jam strikes from May 11 onwards given by the sub-nationalists and other disgruntled subversive elements. They intend to create a law and order situation by forcibly closing markets and disrupting public service delivery.” Sources said in anticipation of the strike, the government had enforced Section 144 across PoK and announced holidays in all educational institutions on May 10 and 11. However, people came out in thousands on the road in all districts of PoK.

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The JKJAAC movement has demanded that electricity should be provided to consumers following the production cost of hydro-power in the state, Dawn said.

In December last year, it had reached an understanding with an official reconciliation committee, following which a notification was also issued by the government on February 4.

However, in April the committee announced the long march on May 11 in protest against the “non-fulfillment of the written commitments” by the government.

The Dawn newspaper reported that all businesses, including banks, remained closed, and traffic and vendors were off the roads in three districts of Muzaffarabad division. PTI SH GSP NPK AKJ GSP

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