New Delhi: Massive civil agitations are taking place in multiple regions of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) over rising inflation and the “step-motherly” treatment the Pakistan government is meting out to the people of the region.
The Sunday Guardian has accessed exclusive videos and images of a large number of people coming out on the street seeking reduction in the price of flour, which as per locals, has risen to Rs 500 a kilogram in the one-month between September end and November end.
The protest, a local source said, has been happening sporadically since November end, but picked up pace from earlier this week as inflation is continuing to rise and the supply of essential commodities in the region are decreasing.
On Wednesday morning, 13 January, protests were held in Palandri, Sudhanoti district, which is less than 100 km from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Similar protests, as visible from the videos accessed by The Sunday Guardian, were seen in various pockets of Poonch district (PoK) including Azad Pattan, Hajeera, Rawalakot and Mong, also called Mang.
Similar instances of enraged unarmed civilians, mostly male, coming out on the streets, were happening until Thursday evening in Thorar, Trarkhel, Bagh and Kotli.
According to local sources, the protesters are being dealt with by police officials of Bagh district, which was earlier a part of Poonch district. “Many of the protesters from Bagh, who were moving towards Poonch, have been arrested,” a local source said.
In one of the videos, a large number of protesters are seen at Azad Pattan bridge, which connects PoK to Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that last year in July, Pakistan and China had signed an agreement for the 700 MW Azad Pattan hydel power project on Jhelum river in Sudhnoti district of PoK. The $1.5-billion project is the second power project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In the videos, the protesters are seen being lathi-charged and being hit with canisters of tear gas shells. After some time, the protesters start pelting stones at the police personnel.
Local sources confirmed that at least 150 of the gravely injured, many of whom are a member of a local political outfit, Awami Action Committee, were admitted to Palandri hospital
Around hundreds of protesters were gravely injured, among whom the prominent ones were: Mohammad Faizal, Mohammad Muneer, Mohammad Raeesh, Mohammad Irshad, Mohammad Amaan, Makhan Khan. The leaders of Awami Action Committee announced that they would not step back until their demands were fulfilled. Those injured were sent to civil hospital, Palandri, which is the capital of Sudhnoti district, PoK.
All government offices in Thorar town, Poonch district, have been sealed, with protesters taking control of the local police station. Unconfirmed reports stated that at least one protester has died in the police action after which a police check post near Azad Pattan bridge was set on fire.
As per last reports, protesters were camping at Pachiot village near Goi Nala.