Clashes in POK over wheat, power prices; 1 cop dead, 100+ hurt

ISLAMABAD: One police officer was killed and more than 100 people, mostly policemen, injured in violent clashes between security forces and protesters agitating against high prices of wheat flour and electricity in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, media reports said on Sunday.
The disputed region witnessed clashes Saturday between police and activists of a rights movement amid a “wheel-jam and shutter-down” strike across the territory, Dawn newspaper reported.
Mirpur senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kamran Ali told that sub-inspector Adnan Qureshi succumbed to a gunshot wound in the chest in Islamgarh town, where he was deployed along with other police personnel to stop a planned rally for Muzaffarabad via Kotli and Poonch districts under the banner of Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC).
JAAC spokesman Hafeez Hamdani said the committee had nothing to do with violence. “Such elements have been purposely planted in the ranks of protesters to bring a bad name to a struggle that aims nothing but the legitimate rights of the people.”
The JAAC, which has traders at the forefront, has been seeking electricity as per hydropower generation cost in the region, subsidised wheat flour and an end to the privileges of the elite class.
On Wednesday and Thursday, around 70 JAAC activists were arrested by police during raids at their residences and those of their relatives in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur divisions, triggering serious clashes in Dadyal on Thursday. JAAC subsequently announced a shutter-down and wheel-jam strike on Friday, a day ahead of its planned long march towards Muzaffarabad on Saturday.
A heavy contingent of Rangers and policemen has been deployed to stop the protests. Mobile phone and internet services were also suspended in several parts of the POK Sunday. Pakistan Prez Asif Ali Zardari has called an emergency meeting on Monday, said sources. PM Shehbaz Sharif said that he was “deeply concerned” about the situation in POK. “Unfortunately, in situations of chaos and dissent there are always some who rush in to score political points. I urge all parties to resort to peaceful course of action,” he said.


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