Violent Clashes in PoJK Claim One Police Officer’s Life, Injure Dozens

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Muzaffarabad, 12th May 2024: The Dawn reported on Saturday about violent clashes in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), resulting in the death of at least one police officer and injuries to 90 others. Mirpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kamran Ali confirmed that Sub-inspector Adnan Qureshi succumbed to a gunshot wound during clashes in Islamgarh, where police attempted to halt a rally organized by the Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) advocating for various civic rights, including fair electricity pricing and subsidized wheat flour.

The JAAC, predominantly represented by traders across the region, has been demanding equitable treatment and an end to the privileges enjoyed by the elite class. Tensions escalated following the arrest of around 70 JAAC activists during raids in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions, sparking clashes in Dadyal. In response, the committee announced a strike, leading to confrontations between protesters and law enforcement in Muzaffarabad.

Amidst the chaos, police resorted to teargas and aerial firing to disperse crowds in certain neighborhoods, resulting in injuries to both officers and civilians. SSP Yasin Baig confirmed the injury of a young boy alongside a police officer. Kotli SSP Mir Muhammad Abid reported that nearly 78 policemen were wounded in the district due to attacks by miscreants masquerading as protesters.

JAAC spokesperson Hafeez Hamdani vehemently denied any involvement in the violence, suggesting that agitators were planted within the protest ranks to tarnish their peaceful movement for rights. PoJK Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan urged dialogue to address grievances peacefully, emphasizing the government’s willingness to engage constructively. Similarly, PML-N leaders stressed the need for a peaceful resolution and urged authorities to heed the protesters’ demands without resorting to violence. Former PoJK premier Raja Farooq Haider urged demonstrators to refrain from lawlessness and expressed condolences for the fallen officer.

The situation remains tense as both protesters and authorities navigate towards a peaceful resolution amidst escalating tensions and casualties.