Citizens in uproar over prolonged power outages
26 August, 2013
LAHORE: Irked by load shedding, citizens on Sunday held two separate protest demonstrations against the incessant power outages.
The first demonstration was over the death of an elderly woman in Madina Town, blamed on a two-day power outage. The second was a protest against a six-day power outage in Bagrian Green Town.
Around two-dozen residents of Madina Town near Shalimar Gardens gathered and chanted slogans in support of their demands. They said due to a problem in the transformer of the area, there was no electricity for the last two days.
They said that an elderly woman died because of suffocation caused by the prevalent humid conditions, which had been made worse by the continuous power outages.
They blamed LESCO officials for their undue demand of money for changing the transformer. They demanded that the government restore their power supply. The protesters dispersed peacefully after demonstrating for an hour.
In Green Town, hundreds of citizens, including children from the localities of Bagrian, Ferozwala and Hakim Town, gathered at Bagariyan Chowk and held a demonstration.
The protest turned violent when Green Town Police arrived on the spot and baton charged the crowd. The police also used tear gas against the mob. The protesters continued their demonstration, and as a reaction to the police aggressiveness they started pelting the police vehicles with stones. The police were forced to flee from the scene. Later, a heavier police contingent arrived and arrested around 20 protesters. The police also resorted to aerial firing to disperse the mob.
However, the protesters gathered again and continued the demonstration even after the arrest of the protest leader. The crowd also burnt tires and chanted slogans against the provincial and district governments.
Children and teenagers of Bagrian and adjacent areas were seen using the demonstration as an excuse to create a ruckus. The residents claimed that there was no electricity in the area for the last six days and LESCO officers had not restored the power supply despite the fact that numerous complaints were lodged with them. "We have no option but to take to the streets. We will not end the protest until the power supply is restored," the protesters said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, taking notice of the police action against the demonstrators in Lahore during the last two days, especially the PTI demonstration, called Punjab Chief Minister (PM) Shahbaz Sharif and directed him to take no action against the citizens and protect their right to observe peaceful protest demonstrations.
Following this, Lahore DCO Naseem Sadiq and MPA Saba Sadiq held talks with the protesters and told them that the Punjab government has directed the LESCO authorities to restore power supply to the area by 6pm. After this assurance the protesters dispersed peacefully after a nine-hour long demonstration. However, they warned the DCO that in case the power supply was not restored they would gather again and resume their demonstration.
MPA Saba Sadiq also ordered the police to set free all arrested protesters.