Routine life was disrupted as Gilgit-Baltistan remained shut for the third day on Sunday due to protests against increase in subsidised wheat prices and other grievances.
A complete shutterdown and wheel-jam strike was observed on the third consecutive day on Sunday across GB.
Protest demonstrations were held across the region, and protesters marched to Gilgit from Nagar, Hunza, and Ghizer districts. The GB residents have been protesting for the last one month against the decision to increase the subsidised wheat price and other grievances in many districts of the region.
The strike call was given by the Awami Action Committee (ACC), an alliance of various political and religious parties in the region.Under plan B of the protest, thousands of residents started marching to Gilgit city from Nagar on foot through Karakoram Highway on Sunday.
The march participants will arrive in Gilgit today (Monday) to join the main protest rally in Garibagh. Similarly, a large number of Ghizer residents, through a rally, arrived in Gilgit on Sunday. Rallies from Diamer and Astore districts are also scheduled to march towards Gilgit today (Monday).
On Saturday, hundreds of people on motorbikes took out rallies from Hunza district and Ghizer, reached Gilgit, and joined the central protest demonstration at Ittehad Chowk.
Shops, business centres, restaurants, and trade activities remained suspended; inter-district and inter-provincial transportation remained close; and GB residents faced hardship while travelling to other parts of the country.
Protest demonstrations were held in Chilas, the district headquarters of Diamer, the Shimshal area of Hunza, and various areas of Shigar, Ghanche, Astore, and Kharmang districts.
Thousands of protesters staged their daily sit-in at Yadgar-i-Shuhada Skardu for 24th consecutive day on Sunday.
Addressing the protesters, speakers said the protest will be called off after achieving their 15-point demands.
The demands include the restoration of the subsidised wheat price at the 2022 level, the suspension of the Finance Act 2022, the withdrawal of various taxes, ensuring GB’s share in the NFC award, and the provision of land ownership rights to locals.
It also demanded all leases granted to outsiders for exploration of minerals should be cancelled, 80 percent royalty of Diamer Basha Dam under net hydel profit should be given to GB people, electricity supply to GB residents should be ensured,the 22-hour power outage must be ended, medical and engineering colleges in the region must be established, and traditional routes in GB must be restored.
Opposition members in the GB Assembly, Nawaz Khan, Naji, Javed Ali Manwa, and Ayub Waziri, also addressed the protesters in Gilgit and Nagar, respectively.
GB opposition leader Kazim Mesum and other opposition members have already announced their support. Ghulam Abbas Athar, president of Anjuamn-e-Tajeran Skardu, said in freezing temperatures, GB residents have been protesting since last month. He lamented that the GB government is not serious about handling the issue and has neglected it.
Meanwhile, 4G mobile Internet connectivity remained suspended across the region, and protesters demanded the restoration of 4G mobile Internet in the region.
Addressing the protesters, Ehsan Ali, the chief organiser of ACC, said that for the last seven decades, constitutional and legal rights for GB have been denied. He said successive governments in Islamabad failed to provide the due share of GB.
“GB residents have been facing a 22-hour electricity shortage in education, health, and other basic facilities, he said.
Mr Ali said the demand is not only the withdrawal of the subsidised wheat price hike but also other genuine issues that couldn’t be solved in many decades.
Meanwhile, governments failed to convince protesters to end their month-long protest movement. GB Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan has instructed his cabinet members to start negotiations with protesters.