Mob rule took over in garrison city as violent crowds on Tuesday ‘protested’ power outages damaging millions of rupees worth of public and private property on Benazir Bhutto Road.
The protests that started last week with the rise in temperatures and prolonged loadshedding, continued in different areas of the city, with protesters approaching BB Road from Peshawar Road and Bank Road to gather at Marrir Chowk.
The protest call was given by Markazi Anjuman-i-Tajran (MAT) (central association of traders), upon which all traders in cantonment and other parts of the city shut their businesses and proceeded towards Teli Mohalla on BB Road, where they staged a sit-in. Around 100 protesters wielding wooden sticks and iron rods could be seen amid the placards and banners emblazoned with anti-government slogans.
The violent group forced traders to close their shops in the Saddar area and on Murree Road, forcing them to lose their income in an already sluggish economy.
The protesting youth damaged almost all traffic signals and hoardings on the city’s most important artery from Saddar to Chandni Chowk and smashed doors and windows of small shops, plazas and banks, besides damaging at least four private cars.
They uprooted plants on the medians of the road and broke different sculptures of animals and other decorations installed by the Parks and Horticulture Agency (PHA).
The road remained a no-go area for transporters, leading to chaotic scenes on Rawal Road, City Saddar Road, Rashid Minhas Road and other alternative routes. As precautionary measures, all petrol pumps and CNG stations were closed.
Heavy contingents of police were seen on the sidewalks but they remained silent spectators and did not bother to enforce the law as the protesters continued burning tyres at every intersection on BB Road.
PHA Managing Director Muhammad Mushtaq lamented the damage of decorative pieces causing huge losses to the civic agency by the mob. He said protest is right of the people, “but what good did they get by uprooting plants and damaging our efforts to beautify the city?”
He believed the losses would run into millions. He lamented that the PHA efforts in keeping the city look green were ripped apart in seconds.
When asked to comment on the violent protest, Rawal Town Superintendent of Police Chaudhry Hanif said it was right of the public to protest, and added that all concerned SHOs had been on their toes since the afternoon and FIRs would be lodged against protesters for damaging private and public property.
He said that even if no complaint was received from affected citizens, the police would register criminal cases against unknown protesters on their own.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.
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