Protest in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir over rising prices leaves police officer dead and over 90 people injured News
Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Protest in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir over rising prices leaves police officer dead and over 90 people injured

A protest in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir left one police officer dead and over 90 people injured on Saturday, local officials told Pakistani media. The region has been experiencing clashes since Thursday, as well as a major strike on Friday.

Kashmir is a disputed region divided between India and Pakistan, and is known in Pakistan as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” (AJK). The region, in the last week, has faced protests over rising costs of food and utility bills, specifically over the costs of electricity and wheat. Seventy members of the protests, which were organized under Jammu Kashmir Awami Action Committee (JAAC), were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday night. This resulted in clashes in the Dadyal area on Thursday, with JAAC announcing a strike on Friday. Following the strike, there were violent clashes in Muzaffarabad, where tear gas was used by the police against protestors, who were using stones and bottles.

Sub-Inspector Adnan Qureshi, who arrived at the scene as part of the police personnel deployed to stop the rallies, was shot and died.  The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Kotli has stated that at least 78 policemen were injured in the “attacks of miscreants under the guise of protests.” The District Headquarters Hospital said that it received 59 police personnel for treatment, as well as nine injured protestors.

JAAC spokesman Hafeez Hamdani told local media that JAAC had no relation to the violence. Officials of the region’s government, including AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, and Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan have condemned the incident and called for peaceful talks. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari convened a meeting on Sunday to address the situation.

PTI, the party of former prime minister Imran Khan, condemned the way police have been treating protesters in the region, saying on X (formerly Twitter), “The continuous harassment and violence against peaceful protesters in AJK is absolutely unacceptable and condemnable. Such policy are dangerous for Pakistan, and represents a direct threat to democracy.”

Rising prices, correlating to Pakistan’s current inflation rate of 17%, have been a cause of contention in the region, with previous agreements between JAAC and the government failing, as matters continue to remain tense.