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Unrest in Pakistan-administered Kashmir: What’s behind the recent protests?

Why are the residents of Pakistan-administered Kashmir out on the streets and what are their demands?

Islamabad, Pakistan — Protesters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir have called for shutdowns and the declaration of a “black day” on Tuesday after blaming paramilitary forces for killing three young men and injuring several others on Monday evening.

A protest convoy, led by a group called the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), has been marching towards Muzaffarabad since May 11, the capital of the autonomous region bordering India, over demands including subsidised flour and electricity.

However, on Monday evening, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a 23 billion rupee ($82m) subsidy programme, drastically reducing the price of wheat and flour.

Shaukat Nawaz Mir, the chairman of the JAAC, said the group had planned to turn their protest in to a celebration after the government’s decision to meet their demands, but will now protest against the killings.

“Our protesters were completely peaceful but the government’s decision to call in rangers meant that they wanted to use force against us, and now we see that three people were killed,” he told Al Jazeera.

The regional government also issued a notification ordering the closure of government offices and all educational institutions in the region. The protests, which started over the weekend, also saw the partial suspension of mobile internet services as well in some regions.

Pakistani government officials have hinted, on social media, at “enemy propaganda” fanning the tensions — an apparent allusion to India, with which Pakistan has fought three wars over Kashmir. But officially, Islamabad has not blamed India for the crisis it faces in