By Awami Action Committee
On the eve of 29 September 2023, the Kashmir state police, in association with the hundreds of policemen from Pakistan, cracked down in Kashmir and arrest dozens of protestors and including leaders of Awami Action Committee. Prior to that, hundreds have been named in different FIRs registered by the state of Kashmir for protesting and demanding cheap electricity and food items. The leaders of Awami Action Committee call upon a protest tomorrow on 30th September in Rawalakot against the arrests and for the demands of the movement.
Awami Action Committee is a movement started from Rawalakot on 9th May with the representation of different traders, transporters, students and civil society organizations and political parties. The Committee set up sit-in protest camps all across the Kashmir. Workers, masses, women and youth from all over the Kashmir joined this movement that demanded to cut down the electricity prices, as Kashmir is the producer of 3190 megawatts, and there are projects under way for the additional 5000 megawatts. Yet, the state is not willing to accommodate the region with only 354 megawatts demand, as per the agreement deeds held during the construction of various dams in Kashmir region. Instead, the state imposed multiple taxes in electricity bills.
During the last five months the masses are continuously protesting against these imperialist taxes on electricity bills and other basic food items. During the last two months, the masses refused to pay electricity bills and resist with the formation of Awami Action Committee and submitted their electricity bills to protest camps of Action Committee.
The scope and impact of this movement was so wide that it inspired sparks within Pakistan. Thousands had protested against expensive electricity bills in almost every big city of Pakistan including Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta, Swat, Multan, Jampur, Sadiqabad, Hyderabad, Dadu and many others. Also, a Pakistan Awami Action committee came into formation.
This Thursday on 28th September, Electricity bills were burnt for the second month in a row. However, this was the first month in Muzaffarabad division, in which electricity bill submission has been refused. Last month, according to sources, the boycott of 30 to 40 percent of electricity bills was successful. However, this month, according to sources, more than 90 percent of electricity bills have been boycotted. On 28th September, electricity bills, worth in multi millions in rupees, were torched during public protests all across the Kashmir, some thousands of bills are used to make paper boats to sail into the river. The movements always find their own sense of humor.
Instead of considering the public demands, the state responded with heavy retaliation and arresting hundreds of peaceful protestors. The 145 days long and peaceful main sit-in protest camp of Rawalakot was stormed and dismantled by armed policemen and arrests were made. In Bagh, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Sadhnoti and other areas the raid parties are being conducted while this report is being written. It’s utterly shameful to use force against peaceful protestors, and not just the state force but to invite the mercenaries out of the state.
The state is weakened in the battle of nerves. During the last five months of the peaceful movement of Kashmir, not a single pot was broken across Pakistan-administered Jammu Kashmir. The masses became part of the movement in droves and the spread of the movement eventually shook the nerves of the state. Bogus and baseless cases are being filed everywhere. Arrests have been started in dozens of cases. But the arrests and crack downs cannot weaken the movement, it will only strengthen it. The solidarity and unity are the power that can defeat even the mightiest. If Kashmiri state is in collaboration with Pakistani state in crushing the peaceful and genuine movement, it is duty of the revolutionary activists, working class and youth of Pakistan to stand in solidarity with Kashmiri masses. And this unity of working-class masses can ensure the victory.