3 killed in POK, Azadi chants as protests intensify in Muzaffarabad: Report

The announcement by the Pakistani government of a Rs 23 billion subsidy failed to placate the protesters in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
3 killed in POK, Azadi chants as protests intensify in Muzaffarabad: Report
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Three civilians died and six suffered injuries in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) due to firing and teargas shelling by the paramilitary Rangers in Muzaffarabad as protests over rising costs of food, fuel, and utilities intensified on Tuesday.

The incident happened as the Pakistani Rangers were moving out of the territory from Kohala after the government announced a Rs 23 billion subsidy to placate the protesters, Dawn reported.

As the 19-vehicle convoy of the Rangers reached Muzaffarabad, it was pelted with stones near Shorran da Nakka village, prompting the security personnel to respond with teargas and firing.

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3 killed in POK, Azadi chants as protests intensify in Muzaffarabad: Report

Videos on social media showed vehicles of the paramilitary personnel set ablaze on the Muzaffarabad-Brarkot road. Another video showed 'Azadi' slogans being raised by a group of protesters against Pakistan.

The Jammu and Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), which has been spearheading the protests, asked the demonstrators to resume their march, saying the Pakistani government did not fulfil all their demands.

The violent street protests in POK, which erupted around May 10, have left more than 90 people injured, Pakistani media reported.

On Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the release of Rs 23 billion for POK for power and wheat subsidies to placate the protesters.

The rate for 40 kg of flour was reduced to Rs 2,000 from Rs 3,100. The electricity tariff was also reduced to Rs 3, Rs 5 and Rs 6 per unit for up to 100, 300, and more than 300 units, respectively, the Dawn report said.

Speaking on the latest round of violence, a POK activist, Amjad Ayub Mirza, said the situation in Muzaffarabad was getting very serious. He also requested the Indian government to summon the Pakistani ambassador and seek an explanation.

"This morning, about 500,000 people descended upon Muzaffarabad and the suburbs to protest against high taxes... Suddenly, the protesters hit back and the Rangers retreated. It seemed as if the Rangers had disappeared from the scene, but then they came with a heavy contingency of rangers," ANI quoted Mirza as saying.

"The death toll might increase. The internet has totally shut down in the region. The Army commandos started to land in helicopters in the centre of Muzaffarabad and each helicopter was carrying about 20 to 25 commandos," he said.

Source: India Today

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