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SOURCE: ANI

Amid the intensified protest against the Pakistan government in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday reiterated India’s stand on merging the illegally occupied region and said that “one day we will end the illegal occupation of the POK and the POK will join with India.”

“These days, a lot of things are going on at the POK. You must have seen some incidents happening there. Now we (the Modi government) are very clear on this…POK is a part of India…it was always part of India, it will be part of India,” EAM said during a media interaction at a seminar on Indian Capital Markets ‘Roadmap for Viksit Bharat’ at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in Mumbai.

“And we have this intention. that one day we will end the illegal occupation of the POK and it will join with India. Now you see that the opposition is in the opposite direction,” he added.

The minister also questioned those “who wanted to run Article 370, who was interested in it” referring to the criticism over the abrogation of the article by the BJP-led government in August 2019.

“If I talk about the record, then in the last five years, one of our great achievements was on Article 370. We will also say that the NDA’s record and its thinking. The Modi government’s thinking is how to integrate Kashmir with the country and how to further develop it. On the other hand, you see who wanted to run Article 370, and were interested in it. So this is also a clear choice in front of the country,” he said.

He also commented on former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s remarks that “they (Pakistan) are also not wearing bangles” and will attack us.

“Farooq Abdullah reminds us not to talk about POK because Pakistan has nuclear weapons. We are proud of India’s nuclear weapons. On the contrary, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons seem to be more important. If it is Manish Shankar Iyer or Farooq Abdullah, they are so afraid of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons that they think that we should not talk about POK. 

The situation remained tense in PoJK on Monday as the total strike against high prices of wheat flour and inflated electricity bills and taxes entered its fourth day, with the Pakistan government stepping up efforts to de-escalate the situation following deadly clashes between security forces and protesters.

Amid a wheel-jam strike persisting for the fourth consecutive day in PoJK, a long march spearheaded by the Awami Action Committee (AAC) set off for the PoJK capital, Muzaffarabad, Geo News reported.

Protesters have already initiated sit-ins, effectively shutting down the Kohala-Muzaffarabad Road at various points along its 40-kilometer stretch, which connects Kohala town with Muzaffarabad in PoJK. Their route from Dhirkot is expected to lead them to the capital.

The PoJK government deployed Rangers and police following clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators in Mirpur. These clashes resulted in the death of a police officer and left over 70 others injured.

Heavy police contingents have been stationed at key points and sensitive areas, while markets, trade centres, and educational institutions remain shuttered, and transportation services remain suspended.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for a high-level meeting to address the ongoing situation in PoJK, as negotiations between protesters and the state government reached an impasse, according to Geo News.