Kashmiris are vociferously protesting against rocketing inflation, rising electricity bills and the illegal occupation of Pakistan Army on Jammu Kashmir. This movement that started a year ago has now spread to every town and village of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (POJK). Massive protests are happening from Bhimber to Neelum Valley and Kashmiris in all three divisions of POJK –Muzaffarabad, Mirpur and Poonch — are on the streets demanding freedom from Pakistani regime.
POJK protests–brief background
Kashmiris have been continuously protesting against exorbitant electricity bills for the past three months across Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (POJK). In the first phase, they refused to pay electricity bills, in the second phase two months electricity bills worth crores were burnt publicly. In the third phase, payment of toll tax was stopped. And in the fourth phase, shutter down and complete closure (chakka jaam) of market places is being done across POJK. Apart from this, sit-in protests have been going on for months in Hajira Pulandri, Rawalakot, and other cities, towns and villages across POJK.
Kashmiris in the POJK have clearly stated that Mangala Dam, Neelum, Jhelum and all other hydro-power generating projects are owned by the people of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (POJK) and that they (Kashmiris) must be provided free electricity instead of Rawalpindi, Islamabad and other parts of Pakistan. POJK Kashmiris say that Pakistanis rob electricity from POJK and then sell this electricity to them at a much higher price. POJK Kashmiris are also asking to restore the subsidy on wheat flour.
During these protests the Kashmiris said clearly that Pakistanis exploited POJK in the name of liberating Jammu & Kashmir from India. “We want those same facilities that India is providing to our Kashmiri brothers across the LOC (line of control),” a Kashmiri said during protests at Bagh. POJK Kashmiris are vociferously saying that since Jammu and Kashmir is not a part of Pakistan, so Pakistan must stop levying all kinds of taxes on this land. They say that like India, Pakistan should also provide cheap and quality goods to Kashmiris.
Comparison between the two sides of Kashmir was repeatedly done during the protests in POJK. Local politicians, businessmen, traders, youth and students are seen detailing the development and facilities provided to the Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir by India.
Kashmiris of Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur are saying that India has laid railway network and built a network of highways to Kargil-Ladakh, while there is no infrastructure in the Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir. In the past, Pakistani regime had managed to influence POJK Kashmiris that they were free while those on the Indian side were slaves. However, the advent of social media and digital media have demolished Pakistani lies. Now the POJK Kashmiris have a clear picture of the two sides and they know the truth. They have understood that it’s the Pakistan Army that has been the oppressor all there years. And hence the massive protests against Pakistan Army across POJK. These protests are getting bigger with each passing day and hatred of Pakistani regime is increasing in Kashmir.
Kashmiris across “Azad Kashmir” (POJK) are now demanding from Pakistan that if Pakistan cannot provide them with wheat, electricity and other basic facilities, then the LOC (line of control) should be opened so that people from Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Poonch can cross over to India. Pakistan knows that POJK protests will intensify in the coming days. The Paki regime knows that they no longer control the narrative and can fool the POJK Kashmiris. All of this has made Rawalpindi nervous.