At least three people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed and 83 others injured on Tuesday when power riots swept across more cities and towns of Punjab. Enraged protesters torched the home of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid parliamentarian Riaz Fatiyana and burned more than dozen vehicles and several shops in Kamalia and elsewhere. The riots broke out when Fatiyana’s guards opened fire at the protesters, allegedly killing three people.
During the riots, more than 83 people, including DPO Toba Tek Singh Ahsan Younus and DSP Kamalia Akbar Ali, sustained injuries. The protesters also torched 13 vehicles, including five police vans, four motorcycles and four vans.
Earlier, residents had gathered to protest against unscheduled power outages, setting a number of shops on fire and chanting slogans against the government and Fesco/Wapda authorities.
Fatiyana, who also happens to be the chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly, rejected claims that his guards were responsible for the deaths, calling it a “factually concocted story”.
“My house was attacked by a strong group under the patronage of the police. The police first disarmed my personal guards who made an attempt to disperse the violent mob by aerial firing,” he said.
Fatiyana told reporters that the mob attacked his house under the supervision of the Toba Tek Singh DPO “under a well-planned conspiracy to achieve the nefarious designs of the Punjab government.”
He claimed that he was being targeted by the local Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership on the supervision of Punjab government.
On the other hand, DPO Ahsan Younus denied Fatiyana’s claims, asserting that his guards opened fire on a peaceful mob.
The police arrested 12 security guards in addition to taking Fatiyana into custody. Younus vowed that action would be taken against the MNA and his guards.
Government offices burnt in Khanewal
A strike was observed in Khanewal, where a young boy died a day earlier as a result of violent protests against load-shedding. The victim was identified as Azhar Ali Qureshi.
A case was registered at the Khanewal city police station against eight unknown people. The incident, similar to the one in Kamalia, occurred when locals attacked the house of MNA Ahmed Yar Haraaj to protest against power outages.
Khanewal has been without electricity since Monday.
Protesters burn IESCO office in Attock
An office of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) in Mohalla Bijlighar was gutted on Monday in a fire set on by local residents protesting over power outages.
IESCO officials said that all official records and a number of transformers stored in the office were destroyed.
Protesters also burnt tyres, shouted slogans against the government and IESCO, and demanded an end to power outages.
PML-Q President Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said that the PML-N and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were targeting political opponents in Punjab.
He was talking to reporters after meeting former nazim Khanewal Ahmad Yar Heraj and his brother Muhammad Yar Heraj, following AN attack on their house in Khanewal.
Shujaat said that attacks on the houses Heraj, Fatiyana and other PML-Q members had been carried out on the directions of the Punjab Government.
PR suspends branch line trains
The Pakistan Railways (PR) administration suspended all branch line Lahore division trains on Tuesday following Monday’s arson attack on a train in Kamoki.
On Monday, an enraged mob protesting against prolonged load-shedding torched the Bao Train in Kamoki, which was on its way to Gujranwala, causing a loss of more than Rs100 million to PR.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAHRAM HAQ IN LAHORE, RASHID ALI IN ATTOCK And OWAIS JAFRI IN MULTAN and ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.
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