Rallies held in Azad Kashmir against ‘unjust taxes’ in power bills

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

RAWALAKOT: Rallies and demonstrations were held in different parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Thursday to protest against the “unjust taxes in electricity bills, unavailability of subsidized wheat flour, increase in the luxuries of the ruling elite” and other issues of public concern.

The biggest show was, however, held in Rawalakot, the divisional headquarters of Poonch which is also known as Pearl Valley due to its scenic beauty, under the aegis of local traders’ body and other civil society organisations.

It was a rally of thousands of people from all walks of life amid a symbolic three hours long shutter down strike, which started from Supply Bazaar and finally turned into a huge public meeting in the central part of the town.

Speakers declared on the occasion that a dharna (sit-in) which was earlier being held in Supply Bazaar for the past three months over the same issues, would now be shifted close to the court premises and would continue at least until Aug 10.

If the genuine public demands were not met by then, the decisive phase of the rights movement would be launched from August 11, they warned.

It was also announced on the occasion that electricity bills would not be deposited until the government changed the power tariff.

The speakers took strong exception to the AJK’s ruling class, alleging that they were enjoying luxuries at the expense of poor people who were unable to pay even inflated electricity bills and buy expensive flour.

A speaker said that the ruling junta needed votes of people as a stepping stone and afterwards would forget them until the next elections.

“Our territory is generating thousands of megawatts of electricity, but our rulers are unable to ensure just 400 megawatts out of it for the state in what speaks volumes about their indifference and anti-people policy,” he said.

A big rally was also staged in Kotli city under the aegis of “Awami Action Committee,” which turned into a public meeting near Abshar Chowk where a sit-in for “indefinite period” was also started.

Participants were particularly aggrieved at the unavailability of potable water in the city as well as lack of employment opportunities and expensive electricity and flour.

They asked the government to stop “wasteful expenditures on a largely useless state machinery” .

In the lakeside city of Mirpur, a rally was held under the aegis of different organisations, including that of the lawyers, to raise voice for resolution of the problems “haunting the residents of the area since long.”

“We give an ultimatum of two weeks to the government and administration to address the problems listed today,” said District Bar Association president Kamran Tariq on the occasion.

According to reports reaching here, similar events, though with less attendance, were also held in other towns of state.__Dawn.com