MUZAFFARABAD: At least 23 activists of a civil society alliance, averse to diversion of rivers for power projects, were arrested by police who also uprooted their sit-in camp on Sunday, citing “violation” on their part of section 144 of CrPC.

At the time of the raid, reportedly at about 6am, only two activists were sleeping under a small canopy erected on the green belt of a roundabout, called Azadi Chowk, which is overlooked from the press club.

Both activists were shifted to the city police station, following which police uprooted the canopy and removed chairs and charpoys from there.

The camp was set up by “Save River Save Muzaffarabad” (SRSM) Committee on March 26 after a gap of more than a month in their activities aimed at pressurising the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government to immediately take effective measures to mitigate the adverse environmental impact of 969-megawatt Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) and pull the plug on the proposed Kohala Hydropower Project (KHP) in private sector.

While the NJHP has seen diversion of River Neelum through a tunnel system the proposed KHP also envisages diversion through a tunnel system of River Jhelum.

Ever since March 26, the SRSM committee members, who include traders, lawyers, political activists and students, had been attending the sit-in camp daily according to their convenience.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2019