KARACHI: Workers, supporters and leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi staged a sit-in in front of the K-Electric (K-E) head office against the increased tariff, overbilling and fuel adjustment charges.
The JI leaders are protesting under the supervision of the party’s Karachi chief, Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, and have announced that they will not end their protest until their demands are met by the K-E officials.
The sit-in was first organised on Sharae Faisal on March 31 but due to violation of Section 144, the sit-in was called off and Rehman, along with other leaders, was arrested by the police.
After being released by the police the same day, Rehman announced that the sit-in will take place in front of the K-E head office on Friday. Before heading towards the K-E office on Friday, Rehman held a press conference at the party’s headquarters, Idara Noor-e-Haq, and briefed the media about their plans.
According to the party’s Karachi head, the director-general of the Sindh Rangers has assured JI that no action will be taken against the party if it stages a ‘peaceful protest’. However, water cannons and a contingent of police reached the site to pre-empt any untoward occurrence and were on high alert to stop the party’s supporters from entering the office or breaking any laws.
Rehman said the protest against the exorbitant tariff would remain peaceful but will not be called off till their demands were accepted. “No violence will take place. The people have got a chance to fight for their rights,” he said. “People should come out since this is a case for the people of Karachi. K-Electric is a mafia and no political party has come out against them,” he said.
He also said that officials of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had assured JI that they will not be stopped from protesting. “They all are welcome to join us in the war against K-E,” he said, regarding a question on whether the PPP would join the protest or not.
The JI leader said the electric utility had sufficient power to supply the entire metropolis but was still carrying out load-shedding due to ‘ulterior motives’. JI has demanded the lowering of K-E’s charges in line with those of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), which recently reduced its base tariff by Rs3.5 per unit to Rs12.07.
After the press conference, the leaders travelled to the K-E office and proceeded to shout slogans against the utility service. JI also set up a stage for citizens to share their grievances and cases against K-E.
One such citizen, an elderly woman, told the crowd that her son went to the K-E office but was sent to three other offices to resolve the petty issue of issuing a new meter. Another citizen who lives in Delhi Colony complained that he earns only Rs23,000 per month but his electricity bill is Rs17,000. He said he does not have anything in his home that could consume so much electricity but K-E was unwilling to help him resolve this issue.
Other than Rehman, Naib Amir Muzaffar Hashmi, Ishaq Khan, Osama Razi, Muslim Pervaiz and Secretary Akhtar Wahab were also present at the sit-in.
The sit-in is expected to continue until Sunday and the party’s female workers and supporters will join in today (Saturday). The organisers also provided caps, shirts, food and water to the participants.
To entertain the participants, the party brought in three buffalos to the sit-in camp and named them ‘federal government’, ‘provincial government’ and ‘K-Electric’ with party workers playing the flute to the animals in a literal interpretation of the Urdu idiom ‘bhens kay aagay been bajana’. A man wearing a Spiderman costume was also present at the sit-in. He said he was very unhappy with the electricity provider and had concerns similar to those of the JI.