Power-starved turn violent
18 June, 2012
FAISALABAD: Braving sweltering heat, power-starved people staged violent protests against load shedding in many cities of the country on Sunday.
Frustrated with prolonged hours of power cuts, residents of almost all cities in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took to the streets in protest. Some of the demonstrations turned violent after protesters damaged public property and set vehicles on fire.
In Lahore, up to 18 hours of load shedding was reported in most parts of the city due to closure of 15 out of 39 grid stations posing serious problems for citizens on one of the hottest days of the ongoing summer.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz held a protest procession at Nila Gunbad where central leaders of the party criticised the PPP government for its failure to control power crisis and "discriminating against Punjab" with regard to power supply.
In Faisalabad, protesters blocked Faisalabad-Samanduri Road. Police fired teargas shells to disperse the demonstrators, who in return pelted stones at law enforcers. They said that they were braving 20 to 22 hours of power outages a day and were also without water.
In Multan, traders also protested against prolonged load shedding, chanted slogans against the government, burnt tyres and blocked traffic.
In Chakwal, Jhelum and Attock, traders along with residents came on roads and raised slogans against power shortages. They burnt tyres on roads and blocked roads for traffic. They said they were not only forced to brave long hours of power breakdowns but were unable to get water from tube wells and water supply schemes.
In Pakpattan, people from different walks of life protested against unscheduled load shedding in the city and its adjoining areas. They blocked Multan-Kasur Road, affecting the flow of traffic for several hours.
A more violent protest took place in Chichawatni where protesters attacked Saddar Police Station, set on fire seven motorcycles of police and broke the gate of its prisons room.
Seven accused in the prisons room fled, taking advantage of a clash between the protesters and police.
The protesters also attacked and damaged the house and office of MNA Zahid Iqbal. Police had to resort to aerial firing to disperse the protesters.
Police registered a case against 150 people for violent protests during which public properties were damaged and destroyed.
In Gujrat, protesters blocked GT Road while similar scenes were witnessed in Muridke. In Kamonkee, protesters staged a sit-in on the railway track, suspending train services for hours. Similar protests were reported from Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur and adjoining towns. Reports from Peshawar, Kohat and Mansehra said that people are forced to brave up to 20 hours of load shedding a day.
According to another report, Waziristan had been without electricity for the past three days. WAPDA officials said that the power supply line from Islamabad had been cut off for the agency.