Charged power crisis-hit people in several cities and towns of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa continued their protest against long-hour outages, blocking main roads, including Motorway, Karakoram Highway (KKH) for traffic.
Protest demonstrations were staged in Haripur and Abbottabad cities in Hazara division against the unscheduled power outages.
In Havelian, the protesters ransacked offices of power distribution company, Pesco, and pelted buildings with stones and tried to set on fire its furniture. The police, however, fired teargas shells and gunshots in the air to disperse the protesters, who kept on attacking the police with stones from a distance. A hide and seek continued between the protesters and the police for over four hours.
The protesters marched on different roads, chanting slogans against the Pesco for its failure in addressing the energy crisis in the scorching heat which has added to their woes. They also attacked the gunman of PML-N member of the provincial assembly Aurangzeb Nalotha and injured him when the MPA tried to address the mob.
The Pesco officials when came out from their offices to pacify the mob and tried to hold talks with the MPA, the charged mob made them to run away and take shelter in the booking office of a transport company. The mob also threw stones at the office.
The traders also pulled down their shutters in support of the protesters, blocked the KKH at various points suspending the vehicular traffic on the busiest highway for four hours. The administration had to divert the traffic to circular road to ensure unhindered flow of traffic.
The KKH was opened on the assurance of the ACO Khyzer Hayat Khan and DSP Headquarter Tariq Khan that there will be no unscheduled load-shedding. Long queues of vehicles could be seen on the KKH. Hundreds of passengers, including women, children and elderly people remained stuck for hours during the hot and humid weather. They were also seen cursing the Pesco, government and local administration who failed to address the problem which caused road blockade.
In Kohat a large number of people staged a protest rally and surrounded a grid station on Rawalpindi Road. The protesters blocked the road for all kinds of traffic chanting slogans against the government. They demanded of the government and local Pesco officials to end unannounced outages and said that they were suffering from severe water shortage during the fasting month. The Pesco officials called police who used tear gas to disperse them.
In Nowshera, people of Lal Kurti and Cantonment blocked the GT Road near Shobra Square for all sorts of traffic, while some of them blocked Motorway near Nowshera interchange and started pelting stones at the public transport.
Police rushed to the site and fired teargas shells and gunshots to disperse the protesters. On Saturday, hundreds of enraged protesters had attacked the Khairabad and Amangarh grid stations and set the Pesco office record and furniture on fire. Later police was called to disperse to the protestors.
In Charsadda, residents of Nisatha blocked the Peshawar-Islamabad section of Motorway, stopped the passenger vehicles and forced them to return to their areas telling that they would not open the road until their problem was solved. Police were called in to reopen the road. They fired teargas at the protesters and used light baton charge.
In Lakki Marwat protesters blocked the Indus Highway for several hours and observed shutter down strike. They gathered at a checkpoint where social activists Muhammad Iqbal along with provincial ruling party senior member Shahsawar Khan along with president of shopkeepers association Jahanzaib Khan addressed the protesters.
The protesters warned the government that if the electricity problem was not solved within one week they would surround Wapda and Pesco offices in the area along with other government installations adding that government would be responsible for any mishap.
Additional input by our correspondents from Charsadda, Kohat, Nowshera and Lakki Marwat
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.