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Monday July 22, 2024

Public, business community protest soaring inflation

By Khalid Iqbal
July 11, 2024
A representational image showing a protest. — AFP/File
A representational image showing a protest. — AFP/File

Rawalpindi:The business community and the general public organized a protest against the ever-increasing inflation and high electricity bills. The angry protesters carried banners and placards, warning of a city-wide lockdown if the government did not withdraw the unjust taxes on electricity bills. A large number of traders and the general public gathered at Fawara Chowk (Raja Bazaar) and raised anti-government slogans on Wednesday.

Some protesters carried electricity bills, while others held 'Roti' in their hands. A significant number of protesters formed a rally from Dalgaran Bazaar, passing through Trunk Bazaar, Lal Heveli, Bara Bazaar, City Saddar Road, China Market, and College Road. The rally culminated at Fawara Chowk.

Traders from different markets in the city also held rallies on various roads. They closed their businesses and blocked Raja Bazaar, City Saddar Road, Bara Bazaar, Trunk Bazaar, College Road, China Market, Iqbal Road, Dalgaran Bazaar, and Moti Bazaar. The protesters carried placards and chanted slogans against the government’s tax policies on electricity bills, demanding the withdrawal of extra taxes and a revision of the electricity tariff. Traffic was at a standstill in Raja Bazaar, and a heavy contingent of police was present to maintain law and order.

During a protest rally, speakers highlighted that due to increased taxes and rising electricity costs, the cost of doing business had skyrocketed, leading to the closure of industries and businesses.

President of Markazi Anjuma-e-Tajraan, Sharjeel Mir, and other office-bearers strongly protested against the government’s policies. They criticised the government for burdening the poor with taxes and highlighted the extravagant lifestyles of bureaucrats and elected representatives. The protest organisers demanded a review of the electricity tariff and relief for consumers. They emphasised that the burden of electricity theft and line losses should not be borne by citizens and traders.

Moreover, they criticised the government for increasing electricity tariffs in summer and gas tariffs in winter, resulting in significantly higher bills, even for minimal usage. The speakers also expressed disapproval of the steep increase in electricity, gas, LPG, water bills, as well as petrol and diesel prices. They warned of countrywide protests if the government failed to address the concerns of the business community. Public speakers emphasised that people would not back down until their grievances were addressed.