anti-pakistan protests break out in pok against construction of dam on neelum river; locals demand end to islamabad's rule

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Protests broke out in Muzaffarabad city in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, demanding an end to Pakistan's stronghold in the area. The protestors also opposed the construction of a dam on the Neelum river.

According to India Today, the protest was led by the United Kashmir People's National Party and its student wing. The demonstrators were asking to be an autonomous area, free of Pakistan and Indian government intervention, the news channel reported.

ANI reported that 'Azadi' (freedom) slogans were also raised in the protest:

This is the second time locals have protested in PoK, this week, against the construction of the Neelum-Jhelum dam. On Tuesday locals had staged protests accusing Pakistan and China of misusing their resources. The locals claimed that they were being deprived of even drinking water as the Neelum river is drying up due to the construction of a dam. They also alleged that the administration has acted against the interest of the common people.

Demonstrations, strikes, and protests have become a part of the PoK's daily political circuit, ANI said. However, they have remained unsuccessful at forging anything concrete for the people of the region.

Activists in the region are now contemplating asking international organisations for help.

According to ANI, A local activist, in his speech, said, "It is futile to demand your rights from a toothless government. How long are we going to demand our rights from the Pakistan government? If we do not get a satisfactory response here, we will go to an international forum. It is a matter of our life. Similar protests took place in front of the UNHRC in Geneva and Pakistan High Commission in London as well. People from London are also part of our committee and have been supporting us."

"I request you to consider it as your personal matter. This issue is of all. If somebody believes that life is possible in Muzaffarabad even after the water of Neelum is controlled or stopped then he is living in a fool's paradise," he added.

According to the ANI report, Islamabad has, for years, been accused of looting the resources of the occupied territory and filling its coffers, leaving people reeling from abject poverty.

Since the advent of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Islamabad, has, the report claims, stepped up activities including land grabbing in PoK. Locals say Islamabad is exploiting them to please its Chinese masters, the report added.

According to ANI, addressing the protestors, another activist said, "A conspiracy has been hatched to destroy Muzaffarabad. First, they destroyed Muzaffarabad by not signing any agreement and then they made us realise that PoK Assembly has no power and reputation. Here, the Prime Minister announces that a certain project will not be built. A local MLA also reinforces his decision and what we see is that the project gets inaugurated in the next 24 hours."

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