Contrary to the government’s promises for the month of Ramazan, the duration of power outages has been increasing day by day in Peshawar and its surrounding areas. Reacting to prolonged power outages, more and more people have joined public protests against the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and the government. The protests themselves have become a common sight on the city’s main roads and in public places.
Over the past few days, low voltage has also plagued K-P residents. This, coupled with the incessant power disruption has led the protests to turn increasingly violent and hence create a serious law and order situation in the city.
Late Saturday night, thousands of people, many armed with various firearms, marched towards the Pesco subdivision office and power grid station situated on Kohat Road. The protesters were the residents of Dora Road, Afridi Abad and various adjacent villages who complained of being subjected to 18 hours of disrupted power during Ramazan.
Demonstrators fired bullets into the air and smashed everything that came in their way. They destroyed a government vehicle parked at the subdivision office and tried breaking in to the grid station. However, the demonstrators were pacified by police officials present at the scene and were convinced to refrain from entering the grid station. A police official said that an FIR had been lodged against five people for destroying government property. No one had been arrested, however.
A day earlier, the same grid station and Pesco subdivision office was besieged by protestors from the Landi Arbab area who were also enraged by continuous power outages.
A vendor whose shop’s billboard was smashed by the protestors said: “People who rebelled on the streets against load shedding had actually destroyed public property.” “Their protest is against the government and Pesco officials, but ordinary people are the ones who ultimately suffer from their agitation,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.