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Anti-government march rocks Pakistan-occupied Kashmir again

Islamabad, June 14: The Public Action Committee (PAC), the organisation that forced the Pakistan government and the legislative government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) — also known as ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) — to its knees, forcing it to act on its demands of reduced electricity rates, subsidised prices of flour bags and reduction on privileges to government officials, has again taken to the streets, initiating another massive long march against the government’s failure to meet its promised commitments and arrests of Kashmiris.

On the call of the PAC, numerous protesters started their anti-government rally from the Poonch area, marching towards Kotli.

The march kept growing bigger and bigger as it passed through different areas, with many people joining the rally, and chanting anti-government and pro-freedom slogans.

“The government made an agreement with us the last time we protested. They committed to a reduction to electricity units. But all of that was false and a fraud as all Kashmiris have received their bills this month with the same high unit rates in their electricity bills,” said one of the protesters from Palandri.

“Then they raided and arrested our leaders and supporters. They have taken into custody at least 200 of our people. We will not tolerate this aggression. The people of Kashmir have spoken and will not let this government and its forces pressure us anymore,” he added.

Among the many people arrested include influential nationalist voices like Amaan Kashmiri, known for his outspoken nationalist voice demanding independence of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan.

Amaan was also taken into custody and a case was registered against him along with hundreds of others from different parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“They have arrested our people because they raised their voice against the government’s fraud and false agreement. We will not leave the roads and will take this massive long march towards the capital Muzaffarabad until all the arrested people are released and our demands are met by the government,” said one of the protesters.

The AJK government, on the other hand, is nowhere to be seen.

Many say that locals have subjected government officials to attacks and assaults in the recent past, in which they have been questioned for enjoying privileges amid the sufferings of the people.

The matter is also being kept in hiding by the Pakistani media and efforts are being made to block and stop the fast-swelling long march in Kotli through negotiations.

But as far as the protesters and the PAC are concerned, there would be no compromise on any of the demands set forth, which includes release of all arrested locals immediately, reversal of electricity bills and provision of new bills under the agreed per unit price and action against government officials and bureaucrats, who locals say are enjoying high privileges at the cost of the people’s money.

The situation remains “ultra tense” throughout PoK and is expected to gain momentum if protesters announce movement of the long march towards Muzaffarabad.

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