Tired of being left in the dark, hundreds of protesters gathered on the Mingora-Saidu Sharif Road in Swat on Thursday against prolonged power outages. Later the protesters proceeded to attack the Pesco office.
Mingora Circle DSP Siddique Akbar said Pesco officials informed the district government about the protest at around 11am after which he dispatched a team to control the disgruntled mob. He added the demonstrators initially blocked Mingora-Saidu Sharif Road for all kinds of traffic and subsequently marched towards the main office of the power utility.
The mob was led by Rahat Ali, an elder from Gul Kada, and Azizullah from Panrh. While speaking to the protesters, they said the people of Swat considered themselves citizens of Pakistan, but the government’s actions were making them question this belief. “No government treats it citizens this way,” said Azizullah. He added the people of the area were suffering up to 18 hours of load-shedding every day.
Security forces passing through the area were also affected as the road was blocked. The charged mob did not budge despite all pleas to let the soldiers through.
Some of the more animated demonstrators picked up stones and started pelting them at the Pesco office. They ultimately managed to break the gate, but the police was quick to take control of the situation.
The mob’s actions forced Wapda Superintendent Akhtar Hussain to negotiate with the protesters. He assured the people he would provide them with electricity before evening. After blocking the road for about three hours, the protesters finally dispersed.
Protests in Odigram
Residents of Odigram also protested against power outages by blocking the main Peshawar-Mingora Road for all kinds of traffic for more than an hour. Police ultimately managed to open the road by dispersing the mob.
In a similar move, residents of Kabal tehsil, Matta, Dangram, and Rasha Gata also protested against power outages. Local Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders blamed Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Amir Muqam for the current power crisis, saying the entire Wapda set up was under his control.
The protesters, while shouting slogans against the federal government, said they only had one to four hours electricity in a day in towns on the outskirts of the district. They warned of a massive protest against the government after Eidul Fitr.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.
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