A donkey’s death by electrocution has pitched a federal and a provincial minister against each other. Taking up the issue on behalf of the officers and staff of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), the federal power minister, Abid Sher Ali, on Tuesday, staged a sit-in outside the Bhitai Nagar police station.
Six officials and staff members of Hesco were nominated in an FIR under sections 429 and 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure registered at the Bhitai Nagar police station on Sunday. The complainant, Mohammed Jaro Palari, held them responsible for his animal’s death. “This is one of the strangest occurrences in the history of this country,” said Ali while talking to the media at his sit-in camp outside the police station. “So many officers and staff have been booked for a donkey’s death. The Sindh police should be given Sitarae Jurrat for such a performance.”
He accused the provincial livestock and fisheries minister, Jam Khan Shoro, without naming him, of influencing the police to register the case. “This has been done to harass the Hesco officers from taking action against power theft. Ninety per cent of the electricity connections in the minister’s area are illegal,” said Ali. “The people threaten the Hesco staff to break their legs if they disconnect their illegal power supply.”
Shoro’s village is located on the outskirts of Hyderabad near Kotri barrage. Hesco sources claim that almost all the connections in the village are illegal.
Ali complained that power distribution companies in Sindh have submitted over 6,500 cases to the police for the registration of FIRs but only 28 have been registeredso far. “These threats will not stop us from nabbing the power thieves. Operation Roshan Pakistan will continue,” he said, before shouting for the SHO to come out with shackles and arrest them.
The complainant in the FIR tried to balance the pressure on the police by bringing dozens of people to stage a similar sit-in, demanding the arrest of the Hesco officials. Meanwhile, the provincial minister justified the registration of the FIR while talking to The Express Tribune. “If any loss to life or assets occurs due to electrocution [from Hesco’s supply system] in the future, I will encourage the people to book Abid Sher Ali.”
He said that five children have been electrocuted to death in two separate incidents in his constituency of Qasimabad since Ali took charge of the power ministry. “The donkey’s owner could also have died if the wire had fallen on him instead of the animal. For the federal minister, the case pertains to a donkey but, for its owner, the animal was [a means of earning] livelihood,” explained Shoro.
He accused Hesco of taking indiscriminate action against power consumers by disconnecting the power supply to entire localities where some residents have defaulted on payment of bills or are stealing electricity.