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Struggle for Freedom: Protests Shake Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

SRINAGAR: In Pakistan-involved Kashmir (PoK), citizens are facing significant distress as protests have erupted across the region. Authorities have responded with a massive crackdown to quell the demonstrations, resulting in clashes with police and security forces. Tragically, a police officer lost his life, and many others were injured during the recent clashes.

What began as protests against rising taxes, inflation, and power shortages has evolved into a movement for rights and freedom throughout PoK. Protesters, chanting slogans for "azadi" (freedom), have confronted law enforcement in Muzaffarabad and other areas. Leading the protests is the Jammu and Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee, with merchants actively participating in the forefront.

However, the authorities have responded by arresting numerous leaders and members of the Action Committee following a strike call on Friday. Despite this, the momentum for the protests remains strong, with locals demanding independence from the Pakistani establishment.

The Committee has previously organized similar protests in August 2023, voicing grievances against the imposition of taxes on power bills. They advocate for fair pricing of electricity based on the region's hydroelectric production costs.

Addressing the historical context, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar emphasized that PoK has always been an integral part of India and blamed past governments for not ensuring Pakistan's withdrawal from the region after Independence. He highlighted the need for a proactive approach in reclaiming PoK and asserted that its status is now firmly back in the consciousness of the Indian people.

This isn't the first time Mr. Jaishankar has criticized previous Congress governments for their handling of international affairs post-Independence. In a recent address in Hyderabad, he underscored Sardar Patel's opposition to India approaching the UN on the Kashmir issue, which was disregarded by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


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