Electricity protest turns bloody

At least four people were killed and 10 injured on Friday when police opened fire on demonstrators.


Express August 06, 2010

PESHAWAR: At least four people were killed and 10 injured on Friday when police opened fire on demonstrators who were protesting against the power cuts in Topi tehsil, Swabi district. According to AFP, the police have confirmed three deaths.

Locals say the police opened fire when protesters gathered at Safdar Shaheed Chowk following the arrest of their two colleagues, lawyer Javed Zaman Tahirkheli and Niamat Khan.

Earlier in the day thousands of people from the villages of Kota, Zardai, Kalabat, Kala, Hamat, Hatakara in Topi had taken to the streets to protest 16-hour power cuts. They set a Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) office on fire after ransacking it but dispersed after negotiations.

However, when the police registered a case against them and arrested Tahirkheli and Khan, people again gathered at Safdar Shaheed Chowk where the police opened fire. The victims were identified as Hamid, Iqbal Mohammad, Murad and Subhan.

Following the killings, hundreds of residents blocked roads and demanded action against the officials responsible.

“The situation in the area was tense till late at night while announcements were being made to ask people to gather and chalk out a strategy for a future course of action,” Qaiser Nawaz, a resident of Swabi, told The Express Tribune.

Nawaz, who was at the protest, said the police opened indiscriminate fire on peaceful protesters. “It was like an ambush as the firing started without any provocation,” he said.However, AFP quoted a local police official Mukhtiar Khan as saying that “protesters attacked police and opened fire after security personnel detained the organiser of the rally.”

Nawaz also blamed the district administration for the deaths and said that they were not interested in solving the issue and did not even try to talk to the protesters.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2010.

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