Massive shutdown and protests in Pak-occupied Jammu & Kashmir against rising inflation continues

Massive Shutdown and Protests in POJK
Protests in POJK (Photo - Social Media)

In Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, a complete wheel jam and shutdown strike was observed in the Poonch and Mirpur divisions on Tuesday. Protests and rallies were held in 7 districts, involving local administration officials and various small and large markets, with the participation of thousands of people.

During this peaceful strike, the districts of Poonch, Kotli, Mirpur, Bagh, Sudhanoti, Bhimber, and Haveli experienced a complete shutdown and wheel jam. Besides ambulances, no public or private vehicles were seen on the roads. It’s important to note that no road blockades were occurred during this strike.

In Poonch district, protests and sit-ins took place in various locations, including Rawalakot, Hajira, Abbaspur, Thoarad, Paniola, Khai Gala, Ali Sojal, Chhota Gala, Barien, Shoukat Abad, Thalla, Tyen Dhalkot, and Mujahidabad. The protests in Rawalakot involved over 30,000 participants, while other cities in Poonch also witnessed thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets to voice their demands.

In Bagh district, protests and rallies occurred in Bagh city, Rerah, Malot, Dhirkot, Rangla, and other locations, with thousands of people participating. Kotli district saw protests and rallies in Kotli city, Sahnsa, Panjerah, Sarsawa, Holard, Nikyal, and Chadhoi, with a significant turnout. In Mirpur district, Chakswari, Dadyal, and Mirpur city witnessed protests with the participation of thousands of people.

Bhimber district saw protests and rallies in Bhimber, Samahni, and Barnala, while Kotli included demonstrations in Khota and Khursheed Abad. Large numbers of people participated in these protests as well. Sudhanoti district experienced protests in Mang, Plandri, Baloch, Trarkhal, Garela, and Tangi Gala, with significant participation from the local population.

Protesters in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) have expressed outrage over the recent hike in electricity prices, despite long power outages. This protest movement began on May 9 from Rawalakot and has since spread not only throughout Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir but also to various cities across Pakistan. The Rawalakot protests have been ongoing for over 120 days. The demands of this protest movement include uninterrupted and free supply of 400 megawatts of electricity, in line with the region’s requirement out of the 3190 megawatts generated from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, setting up its own grid station and reduction in wheat prices. The demands also include provision of subsidies and an end to the privileges of the ruling elite of Pakistan.

The demands of solving the problems of dam victims in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur have also been included in the charter of demand of this movement. The process of stopping payment of electricity bills has also started since last month. On Tuesday, while addressing the leaders, it was announced that they will continue to boycott the electricity bills until their demands are approved. For the next stage of the protest, it has been announced that they will hold a meeting with the representatives of the entire Pakistani-occupied- Jammu and Kashmir and will issue a plan of action.

In a surprise turn of events, Pakistan’s Caretaker Energy Minister Muhammad Ali said that people will not get cheap electricity until electricity theft ends and people pay their bills.

He added that task forces are being formed at the local level to prevent electricity theft. He said that 589 billion rupees electricity is stolen or bills are not being paid. The Caretaker Prime Minister has called that there is a significant loss of 100 billion rupees in the Islamabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, and Multan distribution companies (discos) out of a total billing of 3044 billion rupees. Additionally, discos in Peshawar, Hyderabad, Quetta, Sukkur, Tribal Areas, and POJK have incurred a loss of 489 billion rupees.

The situation couldn’t get any worse, POJK has been not only forcefully occupied but is being exploited every single day. The citizens of POJK have been deprived of not only the legal share of their own resources but also their rights. Pakistan is nothing more than a wolf preying on the innocent. It doesn’t consider the citizens of POJK as its own, maybe because it still considers them Indian. These protests are a clear indication that the people of the region are also not happy with the forceful occupation of Pak Army.

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