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Agitation over wheat prices: Protesters pour into Gilgit as AAC ultimatum ends

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GILGIT:People from various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are pouring into Gilgit as an ultimatum given by the Awami Action Committee (AAC) for the restoration of the wheat subsidy ended on Tuesday.

HunzaNews April 23rd, 2014.

At least 3,000 people, in large convoys, reached Gilgit from Diamer Valley at about 4pm in response to AAC’s call for a long march, while convoys from Ghizer, Baltistan, Hunza-Nagar and Astore were reportedly on their way to join the nearly 15,000 protesters who have already set up a protest camp at Ghari Bagh.

The protest camp has turned into the epicenter of political activities since April 15 when AAC, an alliance of religious, nationalist and political parties formed earlier this year, announced strikes to force the government to lower wheat prices in G-B.

The movement has also united Shia and Sunni clerics – who until recently were in opposing camps due to religious differences and sectarian tension in G-B. Leaders of the two sects are now seen offering prayers jointly behind one prayer leader.

As people continue to pour in, speakers continue to deliver speeches asking the government to accept their demands or pack up. “Enough is enough, we can’t bear these injustices anymore,” said Shia Ulema Council’s Sheikh Shahadat Hussain while addressing the crowd. “I appeal to you to stand united to get your rights.”

The long march towards Gilgit was announced by AAC on Sunday which gave authorities 48 hours to restore the wheat price from the current Rs14 to Rs8 per kilogramme.

“We will announce the final decision once our delegations en route to Gilgit reach here,” said Wajahat Hussain, a coordinator of AAC. Gilgit city wore a deserted look yet again on Tuesday as markets remained closed and few cars were seen on the roads.

G-B ministers on Monday termed AAC demands misleading and said the movement was a conspiracy against their government as G-B continues to enjoy the subsidy.

Express Tribune

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