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22 Pro-Independence Activists Arrested As Sit-In Continues In Azad Kashmir

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MUZAFFARABAD: Around 22 pro-independence activists were arrested over the allegation of rioting by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) police in an overnight operation conducted in Hajira subdivision of Poonch district. Meanwhile, a sit-in continued in Tetrinote village on the second consecutive day on Sunday.

On Saturday, thousands of participants of a Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) “Freedom Long March”, led by Sardar Mohammed Saghir-led faction, were stopped by the police in Dawarandi village of the Hajira area, when the rally tried to move towards Tetrinote area lying in close proximity to the Line of Control (LoC).

Poonch Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Tahir Mehmood Qureishi, while talking to media persons, said that the decision to stop the marchers from proceeding further was taken in their best interest.

“Their leaders had given an undertaking to the administration that they would not go beyond a designated area to avoid the risk of being hit by Indian shelling.

Instead, the participants of the rally insisted to go beyond the designated spot in Dawarandi in complete disregard of the commitment, the DIG alleged.

Moreover, the deputy police chief claimed that 12 police personnel were injured, one critically, due to stone pelting by the protestors.

He admitted to the use of tear gas by the police to disperse the protestors after which some protesters fell unconscious. They were rushed to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Hajira, for treatment.

The DIG alleged that the protestors also damaged four ambulances belonging to the local administration.

He said a total of 25 people were arrested after midnight, but three were released later.

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According to JKLF sources, Saghir had led the marchers to Tetrinote where local activists had set up a sit-in camp on Saturday.

Addressing the sit-in, Saghir had demanded the “restoration of the revolutionary government in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan” established on October 24, 1947.

“Pakistan should then open the new government’s embassy in Islamabad and get it recognised from all friendly countries to enable us to take the reins of the freedom movement in our own hands,” he further said.

The JKLF leader, while condemning the arrest of activists in strong words, demanded their immediate and unconditional release. The detainees have been tortured in police custody and we demand that a judicial probe should be held in this connection, he added.

Earlier, Saghir had given a call for the long march starting from Rawalkot and ending in Tetrinote, while also announcing a sit-in for an “indefinite period” in Tetrinote to protest the revocation of Indian occupied Kashmir’s special constitutional status , imposition of curfew, communication blackout and ceasefire violations across the LoC.

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