Disgruntled residents of Liaquatabad’s Al-Karam Square and Apsara Apartments continued protesting violently for the third consecutive day on Monday, with protesters blocking roads, exchanging fire with police and Rangers officials and burning three vehicles.
Residents of these areas have been without electricity since Friday evening, when a substation of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) was gutted in a fire, which the power utility blamed on illegal connections.
A KESC spokesman reiterated that consumers of both apartment complexes were defaulting on electricity dues of over Rs400 million, but the power utility was still holding talks with notables and union representatives to draw up a regular payment plan.
“Area notables and building union representatives have been in touch with the KESC and have assured it of meaningful assistance in the recovery of the dues,” he added.
“The KESC hopes that consumers connected to the Al-Karam substation will in future refrain from engaging in illegal power usage, which led to the unfortunate loss of millions of rupees to the KESC due to the burning down of the entire substation, and resulted in power outages affecting the consumers themselves,” the spokesman said.
But even as these efforts were being made, the protesters blocked Shahra-e-Pakistan by burning tyres in the evening, and pelted passing vehicles with stones.
A group of youths torched a truck on the Liaquatabad flyover, suspending vehicular traffic on one of the city’s main arteries. They chanted slogans against the government and the KESC for their failure to provide uninterrupted electricity. Two vehicles were torched in the Karimabad area.
Police and Rangers, who were on standby after two days of protests, baton-charged the protesters and fired teargas shells to break up the protest.
Severe traffic jams were also witnessed on roads surrounding Shahra-e-Pakistan as a result of the violence.
The protesters later regrouped and resorted to more violent protests, during which they exchanged fire with police and Rangers, forcing passers-by to flee for safety and shopkeepers to shut their shops. Police said that they had a taken a number of the protesters into custody for disrupting civic life and adversely affecting law and order.
Protests were also reported from Shah Faisal Colony, Green Town and Colony Gate. Residents of Falak Naz Apartments blocked roads in protest over prolonged outages in their area.