Shutter-down strike across G-B against withdrawal of wheat subsidy

Shutter-down strike

GILGIT: A widespread shutter-down strike was observed in all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Friday as locals vehemently protested against the government’s decision to withdraw the wheat subsidy.

On the call of traders’ bodies and the Awami Action Committee (AAC), a coalition of political and religious parties of Gilgit-Baltistan, shops and markets in Gilgit, Skardu, Astore, Hunza, Nagar, Ghizer, Diamer, Shigar, Ghanche and Kharmang districts remained closed, and streets presented largely a deserted look with nominal traffic movement reported.

Despite these disruptions, the Gilgit-Baltistan government claimed that the situation in the region was normal.

In a statement on social media, the G-B Information Department claimed that people and traders in Gilgit city and its suburbs completely rejected the shutter-down strike.

“Life and business activities in commercial centres continue as usual. Inter-district transport services to and from Gilgit city are also operating normally. We cannot afford more strikes and protests.

Whatever decisions the Gilgit-Baltistan government makes will be in the interest and for the rights of the people and must be accepted,” the statement read.

However, on-ground reports painted a different picture. Demonstrations were also held in Ghizer, Shigar, Ghanche, and Skardu districts, where protesters voiced strong opposition to the G-B government’s recent targeted subsidy policy.

Members from various political groups, civil society organisations, trade unions, and transport and tourism sectors participated in the demonstrations, chanting slogans against both the G-B and federal governments.

Withdrawal of wheat subsidy: Awami Action Committee announces GB-wide protests

The demonstrators equated the cut in wheat subsidy to depriving the populace of basic sustenance and pledged to escalate their protests across the region until the decision is reversed.

They stressed that subsidies are not a form of charity but a fundamental right of the people of G-B. The protesters cautioned the government of a more intense phase of protests, including sit-ins and a long march, should their demands not be promptly met.

Meanwhile, the G-B Bar Council also observed a full-day strike on Friday in support of the strike called by the Awami Action Committee.

Lawyers across G-B did not appear in courts.

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