Pakistan

AJK Protests End as Government Agrees to Subsidies on Flour and Electricity Prices

In a significant development, the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), a coalition of civil rights groups, has decided to halt their protest march in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). This decision comes after several days of intense clashes over soaring prices, which resulted in the unfortunate loss of four lives and left over a hundred injured.

The protest was called off following Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s approval of a substantial grant of 23 billion rupees. This grant is intended to address the majority of the protesters’ demands, which primarily revolved around subsidies on flour and electricity prices.

The protest march was called off a day after the AJK government announced new electricity rates and reduced flour prices. According to the notification, the price of electricity is set at 3 rupees per unit for usage of up to 100 units. For consumption between 100 to 300 units, the rate is set at 5 rupees per unit, while for usage exceeding 300 units, the rate has been set at 6 rupees per unit.

In addition to the revised electricity rates, the government has also announced new rates for flour. The new rate for 20kg of flour is now Rs.1000, and for 40kg, it is Rs.2000. These changes are expected to alleviate some of the financial burdens faced by the citizens.

Shaukat Nawaz Mir, the head of the alliance, made the announcement in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of the picturesque Himalayan region. He confirmed that the government had agreed to all their demands and urged the protesters to return to their homes and resume their businesses.

Mir also called on the government to provide financial compensation to the families of the three protesters and a police official who tragically lost their lives in the clashes. The protesters were killed on Monday evening when the Rangers retaliated after being attacked. The police official, on the other hand, lost his life in clashes that occurred over the weekend.

The situation escalated when the Rangers, who were invited to maintain law and order, were attacked with stones while on their way to Muzaffarabad. In response, they resorted to firing and teargas shelling. This led to the unfortunate loss of three lives and left at least six others injured.

Despite the tense situation, local elders managed to approach the Rangers and escort them to safety via a link road. However, the Rangers had to resort to teargas shelling and firing in the air in another area before the administration could drive their vehicles to safety.

The end of the protests and the subsequent changes in the rates of essential commodities like electricity and flour mark a vital moment in the recent history of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. It is a testament to the power of peaceful protest and negotiation, and a reminder of the government’s responsibility to listen to and address the concerns of its citizens.

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