JAAC calls off AJK protests day after govt accepted demands against inflation, taxes

PM Shehbaz Sharif had announced Rs23 billion grant for AJK due to recent mass protests in valley

Arif Urfi
Zarmeen Zehra
An AAC member announces calling off the protests in AJK. — Screengrab/Reporter
  • Shutter-down strike to be observed to honour protest victims.
  • JAAC cites govt's announcement of reduced flour, electricity prices.
  • Constitution of judicial commission suggested by forum.

MUZAFFARABAD: The Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) Tuesday announced that it would be calling off the ongoing protests in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) against soaring inflation, high taxes and electricity bills a day after the government acceding to their demands announcing relevant relief.

"The government accepted all the demands of the protesters yesterday," a JAAC representative said in a statement referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's announcement of a Rs23 billion subsidy package for the people of AJK.

"The shutterdown strike is being called off," he added while referring to the government's announcement of a Rs1,100/40kg reduction in wheat prices along with the provision of electricity at production cost.

However, he added that a state-wide shutter down will be observed till 3pm today to honour the people who were killed in the protests.

Highlighting the notification of the constitution of a judicial commission on the issue of perks and privileges enjoyed by the ruling elite, the JAAC representative said that all those arrested during the protests would be freed as well and the cases registered against the demonstrators would be annulled.

Speaking to Geo News JAAC leader Shaukat Nawaz Mir expressed gratitude to PM Shehbaz for accepting the demands they had been asking for more than a year.

"[Our protest] movement had three basic demands [which were] cheap flour, cheap electricity and the abolition of privileges for the elite [class]," Mir said while lamenting the suspension of internet services which, according to him, prevented the news of successful talks from reaching the protesters.

Earlier in the day, the JAAC had announced observing "black day" to honour the three people who had died in clashes with the law enforcement agencies which saw dozens of people being injured along with the death of a policeman during the four-day protests.

The committee had also announced funeral prayers for the deceased will be held at 2pm at the University Ground today.

AJK protest saga

The demonstrations continued on the fourth day on Monday despite the federal and AJK governments' announcement of accepting all the demands of the protesters.

A day earlier, PM Shehbaz announced a Rs23 billion subsidy package for the AJK during a high-level meeting convened in relation to the turmoil in the valley after negotiations between the AJK government and the AAC ended in a deadlock.

Following the huddle, AJK PM Chaudhry Anwarul Haq announced the issuance of the notification regarding subsidies for power and food commodities and expressed hope that peace would be restored in the region after the implementation of the much-anticipated notifications.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, AJK PM clarified that neither the government had intentions to disrupt the peaceful struggle of the AJK people nor would it try to impact any such struggle in future.

He also reassured that the notification would come into effect immediately and that it was a permanent arrangement which would be part of the forthcoming budget for FY2024-25.

As per the notification, the flour price has been reduced from Rs3,100 to Rs2,000/40kg.

Subsequently, electricity prices will be Rs3 per unit for usage between 1-100 units, Rs5 per unit for usage between 100-300 units and Rs6 per unit for the 300-above slab.

Commercial rates of electricity have been fixed at Rs10 per unit for 1-300 unit slab and for the slab of 300 or above, the rate has been fixed at Rs15 per unit.