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PoJK: Protests demanding release of abducted activists continue

Visuals from the protest (Photo: ANI)

The abduction of Khwaja Khursheed Ahmed, a prominent figure from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), has triggered widespread protests in the region.

Local activists and student leaders organised sit-ins and demonstrations across various districts of PoJK on Wednesday, demanding the unconditional release of Ahmed and other detained political activists.

They also issued a warning that a long march from Kotli to Muzzafarabad would be initiated if their demands were not met.

During a sit-in, Khawaja Mujtaba Banday, a student leader from PoJK, voiced his concerns, stating, “We have been highlighting the issue of enforced disappearances for a long time. Our activists advocating for people’s rights are being abducted. They talk big about freedom, but the reality is different. It seems our struggle for rights is never-ending. Every time we speak up, our activists are abducted by unknown men. We condemn the authorities who use covert means to suppress dissent.”

Banday emphasised the importance of due process, saying, “If anyone is accused of wrongdoing, the courts and constitution of PoJK are here to ensure justice. No constitution allows for the abduction and torture of individuals.”

He demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned activists from PoJK, including Ahmed, and criticised the administration for its treatment of locals.

Another local leader, Khan Ilyas, echoed similar sentiments, saying, “We have endured this for too long. During recent protests, some elements accused members of the Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) of instigating violence and causing destruction. They targeted JAAC members who have been actively involved in the struggle for Muzaffarabad.”

Ilyas expressed concern over the false allegations and targeting of activists by local authorities, calling for clarifications regarding the recent arrests and abductions. He asserted that peaceful protest was a fundamental right of every citizen.

The protests reflect growing unrest in PoJK over human rights violations and suppression of dissent by the authorities.