FAISALABAD, Jan 3: Traders observed a complete strike on Saturday in protest against electricity and gas loadshedding, petrol shortage and high rate of mark-up on a call by the Anjuman-i-Tajiran.
Hundreds of powerloom workers and students ransacked two offices of the Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company and a bank branch, damaging vehicles on Aziz Fatima and Sargodha roads. Police tear-gassed, baton-charged and resorted to aerial firing to disperse protesters and arrested 10 of them.
Traders of different areas, particularly Clock Tower markets, D Ground, Sargodha Road, Jinnah Colony, Sattiana Road and Ghulam Mohammadabad, observed a complete strike.
Public transport was damaged as protesters blocked Sargodha and Sheikhupura roads.
Hundreds of baton-wielding labourers, students and people from different walks of life staged rallies, blocked roads and played hide-and-seek with the police.
On Sargodha and Aziz Fatima roads, the mob went on a rampage, attacking the Hajiabad and Tariqabad sub-division offices of Fesco.
Protesters threw files and furniture of both offices on the road and put all belongings, including three bicycles of Fesco employees, on fire. They attacked a few shops and vehicles parked in the premises.
A branch of the United Bank was ransacked on Sargodha Road, but was not looted.
In Kasur, workers of trade organisations, powerloom owners, representatives of civil society and social activists staged a demonstration.
They marched on roads, burnt tyres, chanted slogans against the government and Lesco authorities and blocked the town’s principal street.
Although a heavy contingent of police was there, the protesters ransacked dozens of shops and a Wapda office in front of the police lines on Kutchery Road.
Over 2,000 protesters, led by PML-N MNA Shaikh Mohammad Waseem and MPA Naeem Safdar Ansari, brought out a procession from Railway Road. They burnt tyres at the railway station.
Several PML-N leaders spoke to the demonstrators, urging an end to the power and gas loadshedding.
The protesters scuffled with police at Kutchery Road, where a police party headed by DSP city Saeed Randhawa, tried to stop them.
The angry mob then headed to Wapda office at Kutchery Road and besieged it. They pelted the office building with stones, but could not enter it as Lesco officials had locked the premises.
In Lahore, scores of traders and workers of Lakshmi Chowk and Faisal Chowk areas staged a demonstration. They turned up at the Lakshmi Chowk at around 1pm, blocked the road and set tyres on fire.