All-out mayhem: Continued outages fuel anarchy

Riots continue for second consecutive day, Gujranwala faces brunt of fury.


Express October 03, 2011

GUJRANWALA/LAHORE:


Fuelled by continued power outages, mayhem spread across the country on Monday – including all four provincial capitals – with infuriated demonstrators attacking buildings, policemen and passing vehicles for a second consecutive day.


The hardest hit by the rioting, however, continued to be Punjab’s urban centres – where there were scores injured and arrested.

(Read: Threshold of pain - Riots break out over power cuts)

Persistent and crippling blackouts led to rioting in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta, Faisalabad, Abbottabad, Sialkot and Gujranwala.

Centre of the storm

Police from Gujranwala faced the brunt of the protesters’ fury, where over two dozen protests took place after 20 hours of load-shedding in the last two days. Mobs burned down police posts, injuring 30 people – including 14 police officials. The scene of anarchy was exacerbated when the protesters also stopped a train heading from Rawalpindi to Karachi and smashed its windows. Six other people were injured as the rioters stormed the Gujranwala Electric Power Company offices and set them on fire.

In Sialkot, the target of the angry crowds was Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) offices, leading to several Wapda officials getting injured. Protesters ranging from traders to political party members to ordinary citizens continued violent demonstrations throughout the city, while police decided to remain at a safe distance from the chaos.

In Lahore, close to 200 protesters were arrested while others blocked roads, burned tyres and trucks and caused massive traffic jams across the city. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz activists joined with protesters in various locations around Lahore, swelling the number of the rioters.

Tribal areas most affected

The anti-government and anti-Wapda slogans were no less infuriated in Peshawar, where residents are facing up to 15 hours of power shortages every day and are often forced to spend the night on the streets. Demonstrations took place outside the Peshawar Press Club, as well as surrounding areas including Swabi, Landi Kotal and Charsadda. Tribal areas reportedly face load-shedding which continues, unstopped, through the day and night. A resident of Sethi town complained that the fluctuation in addition to the load-shedding meant that even UPS systems were of no help.

Traders put their foot down

In the industrial town of Faisalabad, it was the business community and traders at the forefront of the protests. Unscheduled power outages taking place for 16 to 20 hours a day have left most industrial, trade and commercial activities in and around the city paralysed for the last three days.

(Read: Powerless people)

In Abbottabad, protesters said that their close proximity to the Tarbela Dam should mean less load-shedding, while Karachi and Quetta also face riots, with a number of areas in both regions facing blackouts of up to 16 hours every day.

(With reporting from correspondents in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar)

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2011.


For pictures from the protest, view slideshow here.


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COMMENTS (18)

malik | 10 years ago | Reply

@Faisal: "What about those people who do not have the resources to afford all these luxuries?"

They will go to some countries as refugees or asylum seekers. They will have hardships now but their children will have a great future; good education and high standard of living assured. Ask your friends from Mirpur who went to UK.

Pundit | 10 years ago | Reply

How much electricity is being consumed by the Presidential palace?

( In India anyone can ask this question under the Right To Information Act+ a few rupees and get the answer)

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