The residents of Rawalpindi, mostly comprising traders, went berserk when they came out to vent their anger over unbearable power outages and damaged whatever came in their way on Benazir Bhutto Road, City Saddar Road and Iqbal Road on Tuesday.
The situation got worse when police tried to interfere and stop them from creating law and order situation. The protesters started pelting stones on police when they fired teargas shells in an attempt to disperse them on City Saddar Road and Iqbal Road.
Earlier, angry protesters, belonging to the business community of Gawalmandi, Bank Road, Mithu Khan and Kabari Market and other people burnt tyres at Mareer Chowk and marched on Benazir Bhutto Road towards Committee Chowk pelting stones on nearby shops and buildings, damaging windowpanes of several buildings. While holding sticks in their hands, they attacked public transport and private vehicles and damaged many of them. The protesters also staged a sit-in on Benazir Bhutto Road.
The protest demonstrations were led by office-bearers of the All-Pakistan Traders Association and other organizations of traders. All-Pakistan Traders Association Vice President Shahid Ghafoor Piracha, on the occasion, announced a complete shutter-down strike against prolonged loadshedding on June 23.
Apart from protest by traders, residents of different localities, including Dhoke Syedan, Rawal Road, Defence Housing Society (DHA) Phase-I, Dhoke Gangal, Sadiqabad, Kurri Road, Humak Town, Soan Camp, Dhoke Hassu, Bangash Colony, Sir Syed Chowk and Arya Mohallah, also staged protest demonstrations in their neighbourhoods.
The traders of city and cantonment localities also observed a complete shutter-down strike on Tuesday during the protest demonstrations.
The protesters, carrying banners and placards, chanted slogans against the president, prime minister and the federal minister for water and power. They demanded an immediate resignation from them, threatening that otherwise they would block all roads from Peshawar to Karachi. Traffic remained suspended on almost all roads during the protest demonstration.
All-Pakistan Traders Association Vice-President Shahid Ghafoor Piracha, Bank Road Traders Association President Sheikh Hafeez and General Secretary Zafar Qadri addressed the protesters and said that loadshedding had multiplied their miseries and destroyed their businesses.
They said that the residents have been also facing acute water shortage but the concerned authorities were taking no action. They said that rulers were busy in looting national kitty, while the country was heading towards Stone Age.
Bank Road Traders Association President Sheikh Hafeez, while talking to ‘The News,’ said that business community was facing a hard time because of continuous electricity loadshedding. “We are facing huge financial losses because of energy crisis, but the government is not interested in solving this issue,” he added. He said that the reason for the protest was to tell the government that people were facing a hard time and suffering from energy crisis. “The business community will stage a protest in front of the Parliament House,” he added.
When asked about inflicting damage to public property, he said: “I condemn damaging the public property. It was decided among us that it would be a peaceful protest. I don’t know the people who are damaging vehicles and throwing stones on buildings.”
Bank Road Traders Association General Secretary Zafar Qadri, while addressing the protesters, said that not only the business community, but the general public was also facing many problems because of unscheduled electricity loadshedding. He said that the government was not taking the issue seriously and not willing to solve the problem that’s why they had staged this protest. “If the situation would remain the same then after two days we would stage a protest in front of the Parliament House, Islamabad,” he announced.