GILGIT: The level of anxiety and frustration, triggered by the shortage of petroleum products in Gilgit-Baltistan, can be gauged from an incident that took place in Khaplu, a town in the remote valley of Skardu, late Saturday.
Two policemen, one maintaining order in a rowdy filling station and the other, a diesel seeker, exchanged punches and kicks in front of a crowd. Both suffered serious wounds before people intervened to stop them.
Late on Saturday, for the first time after over a month, an oil tanker reached the petrol station, sources in Skardu said. The fuel-starved public rushed to the petrol pump to fill their vehicles with diesel. “Hundreds of vehicles arrived at the pump in what seemed like no time at all, as soon as the news of arrival of fuel spread in town,” said Mehdi, a resident of Skardu, who runs public transport between Gilgit and Skardu.
The policeman, whose name could not be ascertained, waited in line for his turn with a jar in his hands, but his turn seemed never to be forthcoming, said Mehdi. He then broke the queue and upon complaint, the other policeman intervened to maintain order. Thus a scuffle ensued. Exchange of kicks and punches continued for some time before people from the crowd intervened and separated them. By that time both the men in uniform had sustained injuries.
Rumpus is common outside petrol pumps in Gilgit-Baltistan these days as the devastating floods have cut Gilgit-Baltistan off from the rest of the country, creating a crisis that is further aggravated by the alleged connivance of pumps owners, black marketers and officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2010.