At least one person was killed and scores other injured, including two police officials, when clashes broke out in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, said officials.
The clashes erupted when police acted to disperse a protest march, organized by a pro-freedom Kashmiri group, People National Alliance (PNA), demanding to convert the existing legislative assembly into a constitutional assembly and the unification of Gilgit region with the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, also known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The protesters were heading to hold a sit-in outside the legislative assembly building.
The violence took place on a day, when Islamabad-based foreign diplomats were touring the region, to see the damages in villages of AJK, due to heavy Indian shelling.
“Protestors were trying to hold gathering in front of the AJK assembly, but local administration stopped them near the AJK university. Later they were allowed to hold gathering in front of Muzaffarabad Press Club,” Saqib Ali, a local journalist, an eyewitness told Anadolu Agency on phone.
Despite permission issued by the administration, some protesters suddenly started shouting slogans and threw stones on police, he added.
The videos posted on the social media showed, police using tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters.
“The person who died was not part of the protest, but was already hospitalized and died there,” claimed the local administration.
Meanwhile, information Minister of AJK Mushtaq Minhas, said an investigation will be conducted to probe the killing.
“So far it is not clear, where and how the person died,” Minhas told Anadolu Agency over phone.
He added that the administration had allowed the protesters to hold a peaceful march inside the university ground, but they insisted to move towards the assembly building.
On Monday the PNA President Raja Zulfiqar told reporters in Muzaffarabad that they will hold peaceful protest outside the assembly building.
According to Dawn, a Pakistani English daily, Zulfiqar criticized the AJK government for its failure to take any solid step for the liberation of Kashmir. He called for complete independence of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir from both India and Pakistan.
Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since New Delhi’s move on Aug. 5, to scrap the special status of the region.
Several rights groups including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
India said that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.
The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
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