Around 419 people have been booked by the Faisalabad police on charges of violent protests against load shedding, which involved besieging a Faisalabad electric supply corporation grid station, damaging public property and attacking the police.
Tandlianwala and its peripheral localities witnessed a 24-hour power outage which resulted in residents staging a protest against FESCO/Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) on Sunday.
Protesters also erected blockades at Okara-Faisalabad Road near Nehro Bangla Bridge and burned old tyres. The result was a massive traffic jam which caused lengthy delays and difficulties for all commuters.
Protesters besieged the Fesco grid station, hurled stones and chanted slogans against the power outage which virtually paralysed their normal activities.
A heavy police contingent headed by area DSP Khalid Mehmood Afzal rushed to the area and used force to disperse the demonstrators.
The police resorted to baton charge and tear gas shelling when the mob refused to leave the site, saying they were waiting for electricity to be restored. Following the baton charge, the mob became violent and it began pelting the police with stones and upturned a police van.
Meanwhile, Phalarwan, a town about 50km from Sargodha also witnessed protests similar in nature to the ones in Faisalabad, which resulted in the suspension of commercial activities and destruction of public property.
The incident turned ugly when protesters stormed towards the area police station to lodge a protest against the arrests made of people at demonstrations. The police, in retaliation, charged the mob with batons and used tear gas shelling to disperse the unruly crowd.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.