People living along Lehtrar Road held a furious protest demonstration here on Monday against excessive power loadshedding.
The protesters blocked all major arteries from Khanna Road to Lehtrar Road for a long time causing problems for motorists and transporters in extremely hot and humid weather. They burnt tyres and did not allow motorists and transporters to move ahead rather they forced them to join their protest.
Following failure of negotiations between demonstrators and police high-ups, police resorted to baton-charge and teargas shelling against protesters and tried to disperse them. Police faced a strong resistance from the enraged protesters. Two protesters and a police official were wounded in the clash.
The enraged protesters staged a sit-in at Lehtrar Road and chanted anti-government slogans for prolonged outages, particularly during ‘Iftar’ and ‘Sehr’ timings. The protesters also damaged electricity poles and nearby shops and blocked the Lehtrar Road for all kinds of traffic to and from Murree, Kahuta, Khanna and Kotli Sattian.
PML-N MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, along with police high-ups, reached the spot to cool down the situation. He requested protesters to end their demonstration, but they refused flatly. “We tried to negotiate with protesters to clear the road for traffic, but they were not ready even to listen to us. The last option left with police was to resort to baton-charge, as commuters, including women and children, were suffering a lot,” said a police official requesting anonymity. He said that protesters would be booked for causing inconvenience to public.
The protesters said that they had been facing unscheduled power suspensions despite claims of the government for providing an interrupted power supply in the holy month of Ramazan. The officials of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) are avoiding even to listen to their complaints. “It is a joke with people that electricity is restored for only five to ten minutes at different times, and exactly the same happened on Sunday night,” said protesters.
They said that they are paying inflated power bills on regular basis, but even then they are subjected to prolonged power suspensions even during the holy month of Ramazan. Others said that excessive power outages had deprived them of their livelihood.
A group of power consumers belonging to Tarlai, Lehtrar and Alipur Frash warned the Iesco staff to vacate their offices if they were unable to ensure smooth power supply to their houses. The protesters said that the rulers should step down forthwith as they had failed to solve problems being faced by people. They warned to block the G T Road daily if the government did not ensure power supply to their localities.
Meanwhile, religious scholars have threatened to stage a protest if the ongoing power outages persist. They held a meeting in a mosque and criticised the Iesco authorities for extended power outages lasting more than 12 hours daily, especially during ‘Sehr’ and ‘Iftar’. The power outages have also caused water shortages, creating problems for people.