Power riots: FESCO office ransacked

Protesters tear-gassed, baton charged.


Shamsul Islam June 12, 2013
Scores of people, mostly residents of the Balochni area, gathered outside the Fesco sub-divisional office near Adda Johal and shouted slogans against Fesco and the government. PHOTO: FILE

FAISALABAD:


Scores of protesters staged an eight-hour sit-in in front of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO) grid station on Faisalabad-Sheikhupura Road here on Tuesday before they attacked the office building.


The demonstrators were protesting against unscheduled loadshedding across the district. They said some areas had not been getting electricity for as much as 20 hours a day.

Scores of people, mostly residents of the Balochni area, gathered outside the Fesco sub-divisional office near Adda Johal and shouted slogans against Fesco and the government. Some of them carried steel rods, clubs and hockey sticks.

When no one from Fesco talked to them, they entered the Fesco office and vandalised it. They also attacked more than 20 private and commercial vehicles parked at and near the office.

Guards at the office did not stop them and called the police, who attacked the protesters with batons. Unable to stop them, the police next resorted to teargas shelling.

They also entered some of the houses where protesters appeared to have taken shelter. Five policemen were injured in the attempt to stop the people.

Muhammad Naveed, one of the protestors, told The Express Tribune that the area he lived in had electricity for only four hours a day.

He said he was a farmer and could not water his land due to lack of water resulting from long hours of loadshedding. He said tube wells and fodder cutters could not work without electricity.

Sohail Anwar, another protestor, said that the elections had raised some hopes. He said with the new government, the people were certain that the energy crises would be resolved. He said it was unfortunate to hear within days of the new government taking charge that the energy crises could not be resolved for years.

Sadiq Khan, an elderly protestor who said he was in his 70s, said that energy and economic conditions in Pakistan had never been so worse since its inception.

The protestors demanded that electricity supply in the area be immediately restored according to the loadshedding schedule of around four hours a day. They later dispersed after additional police teams were called on the scene.

Fesco Chief Executive Officer Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan said most of the protesters were residents of the nearby area, which was being provided electricity from the industrial grid stations.

He said for industrial feeders loadshedding was earlier scheduled for four hours a day. However, the Supreme Court had ordered a non discriminating load management scheme so Fesco had to increase loadshedding to 12 hours.

He said the management was well aware of the problems people were facing.

District Coordination Officer Najam Ahmad Shah said that none of the protesters was manhandled. He said policemen did not enter any homes or beat up any women or children.

However, he said, the allegations would be investigated and action would be taken against any policeman found guilty.

City Police Officer Riffat Mukhtar Raja said no one had been arrested.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2013.

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