Islamabad: Pakistan Police have arrested at least 22 people at a pro-independence protest in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) after clashes broke out between authorities and demonstrators. A report by Al Jazeera says that mobile phone service in the remote area was disrupted, complicating reporting of the situation by the media. A sit-in protest continued peacefully at the site of the clashes till Monday, as one report suggested.
The clashes took place on Saturday near the village of Tatrinote, about 80km south of the POK capital of Muzaffarabad, and close to the Line of Control that divides neighbouring India and Pakistan. Police also resoted to teargasing on the protesters when they attempted to get closer to the Line of Control.
The protesters belonged to a faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a prominent Kashmiri political party that advocates for independence from both India and Pakistan – Azad Kashmir – for the territory. JKLF protesters began their sit-in in Tatrinote on Friday, demanding an end to the “Indian suppression” in Kashmir valley.
It is worthy of mentioning that on August 5, India scrapped a constitutional provision that accorded Jammu and Kashmir special status by abrogating Article 370. Earlier this year, 19 JKLF activists were charged with “sedition” for shouting slogans demanding that Pakistani armed forces leave Kashmir.