PAKPATTAN: Angry citizens lost their cool on Tuesday and took to the streets across Punjab to protest against continuing long hours of unscheduled loadshedding.Enraged residents ransacked the Malka Hans police station and a local bank to protest the incessant power outages and unavailability of clean drinking water for the past one year.
The protesters, led by Malka Hans Anjuman-e-Tajran President Rana Abdul Razzaq, took out a rally and blocked the Pakpattan-Sahiwal Road. They chanted slogans against the TMA, and said they were facing numerous problems due to the out-of-order X-ray machine at the rural health centre. They further lamented that the authorities were paying no attention to their plight. Later they attacked the Malka Hans police station, smashing windows and damaging bicycles and vehicles there. They also broke the windows and furniture of a bank at Adda Malka Hans.
In Kasur, meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in compliance with a PML-N call, and rallies were taken out in protest against 22-hour long loadshedding of electricity. Markets, shops, bazaars, power looms and tanneries all remained closed to support the strike call given by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Rallies were taken out in Pattoki, Chunian, Allahabad, Mustafabad and Kot Radha Kishan. A large number of citizens, including power loom workers, reached Bulleh Shah Road and chanted slogans against the government and Wapda.
In the meanwhile, a rally led by MNA Waseem Ahmed also merged with the club-wielding protesters on Shahbaz Road. Later, the protesters marched towards Lahore-Kasur Road and blocked it at Steel Bagh Chowk for several hours. They were holding banners and slogans inscribed with 'Go Zardari Go'. Addressing the protesters, MNA Sheikh Waseem Ahmad and MPA Naeem Safdar Ansari said that the government, while claiming to provide 'roti, kapra aur makan,' had in fact snatched the people's bread from them. He said that the people were facing acute shortage of water due to unscheduled shutdown of power and electricity in the province.
"In addition, business activities have come to a standstill. A large number of factories have been closed, rendering hundreds of people jobless," Ansari said, adding that about 100,000 daily-wagers were leading a miserable life due to closure of power looms in the district. He said that unemployed workers had no alternative but begging. He warned that the government would be responsible for the law and order situation if the shutdown's duration was not reduced within the next 24 hours.
In Sahiwal, citizens on Tuesday protested against 14 hours long unscheduled loadshedding. The Sahiwal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federation Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry office-bearers held a press conference and condemned power outages in the district. They lamented that loadshedding had shut down their businesses, and that farmers were facing great problems since they did not have access to either power or water due to uninterrupted loadshedding.
In Faisalabad, traders and industrialists agreed to observe a black-day against the discrimination being meted out to the province in gas and electricity distribution on April 8.
Addressing a press conference, Chairman All Punjab Textile Associations Council (APTAC) Rana Arif Tauseef said that the energy crisis had taken a serious turn for the worse. He said that the entire onus of the energy crisis had been put on the province despite Punjab's lowest line losses, minimum pilferage and maximum recoveries. He added that unprecedented loadshedding had crippled business and industry in the province.
In Dera Ghazi Khan, hundreds of consumers burnt their electricity bills in protest and announced their decision not to pay their bills against the high voltage that had damaged their home appliances in Mitthaywali Town on Tuesday. The protesters shouted slogans against Wapda authorities and said a large number of home appliances went out of order due to high voltage on Tuesday. Officials responded by suspending power supply instead of removing the fault and compensating the poor consumers after their complaints.