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Wheat subsidy: AAC gives authorities 2 days to comply with demand

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GILGIT: In a hastily called news conference, the Awami Action Committee (AAC) on Sunday gave authorities in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) 48 hours to accept their demand of implementing the wheat subsidy or “be prepared to pack up”.

HunzaNews April 21st, 2014.

“We will give a call for a long march to our supporters across G-B after the deadline,” said AAC Chairman Ehsan Ali, adding the long march will either bring down the rulers or the price of wheat.  He was speaking at a protest camp in Garhi Bagh.

Meanwhile, security has been tightened around Chief Minister (CM) Mehdi Shah’s office and house in Gilgit following threats from AAC.

The 23-party alliance had threatened earlier this week to protest outside the chief minister’s house if their demands were not met.

The strikes were launched on April 15 to pressure the government into restoring G-B’s wheat subsidy which was put in place by former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto owing to the region’s remote location and poor economy.

Police erected hurdles and parked trucks on the routes leading to chief minister’s office and residence in Chinar Bagh on Sunday, diverting traffic to other routes.

The deployment of police and other law enforcement agencies was also increased to preempt any hostile situation.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continue unabated in G-B on the sixth consecutive day as the AAC refused to take back its call of shutter-down strikes.

In Chilas, protesters agreed to allow traffic to move on the Karakoram Highway that connects G-B with the rest of the country. The highway was blocked earlier on Saturday in compliance with orders issued by the executive body of AAC from Gilgit. They had refused to allow traffic to pass despite the CM’s appeal to them via telephone.

The situation in Skardu was not different as the sit-in continued at Yadgar Chowk, with protesters demanding decrease of wheat prices from Rs16/kg to Rs8 – the subsidised rate of 2009.

The chief minister has reportedly asked authorities not to use force to suppress the protests unless absolutely necessary. 

Express Tribune

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