A number of Punjab cities on Sunday witnessed public outrage at massive electricity loadshedding. Sialkot was an exception to the extent that rallies remained peaceful.
SAHIWAL, June 17: Loadshedding protesters set ablaze two police stations, Mepco Main and Complaint offices on Burewala Road in Chichawatni City.
The rioters burnt a police vehicle and five private vehicles parked outside City and Saddar police stations. Four motorcycles belonging to Mohafiz police were also set ablaze at Mepco Main Office.
During attack, nine criminals from City police station managed their escape from lockup.
A source told Dawn that unruly mob moved along different parts of the city for eight hours but police did not take action.
Shahzad Cheema, Pakistan People’s Party MPA from Chichawatni, alleged that the possibility of PML-N’s involvement at local level in such organised attacks could not be ruled out.
It was learnt that protesters threw stones, broke windowpanes, damaged furniture at Election Office and attacked residence of PPP MNA Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal. The guards at MNA’s residence resorted to aerial firing to disperse the mob. Later, Mr Zahid alleged that his house was attacked on the orders of Shahbaz Sharif.
There were reports of clashes between supporters of PPP and PML-N at certain places. Three police officials among six people suffered injuries in clashes. There were unconfirmed reports that on Saturday evening announcements were made in different surrounding villages of Chichawatni through mosque loudspeakers wherein PML-N MPA Arshad Jat and his brother Tufail Jat asked citizens to hold rallies against unscheduled loadshedding.
GUJRANWALA: The city and surrounding major towns on Sunday witnessed massive protest against unscheduled loadshedding.
The angry protesters blocked Railway Line, GT Road, set ablaze tyres and smashed windowpanes of a bus and an ambulance. The rioters also did not allow a PML-N MNA to participate in their protest and forced him to go back to home.
The main demonstration against loadshedding was held on GT Road near Kangniwala where a large number of people gathered and blocked it by setting tyres on fire. The angry protesters chanted slogans against the government. There were long queues of vehicles on GT Road and some passengers fell unconscious due to scorching heat.
In Kamoki, a number of people blocked GT Road from both sides, stopped Shalimar Express for three hours and also forced the traders to close their shops.
Meanwhile, PML-N MNA Rana Nazir Ahmad came there to express solidarity with protesters; however the public did not allow him to stay there and cash in on the situation, forcing him to go back after an exchange of harsh words. The protesters told the media that they were facing 22-hour loadshedding daily which had ruined their business and paralysed life.
RPO Amin Venis and CPO Kamran Yousaf also visited Kamoki who assured the protesters that their message would be conveyed to high-ups on which the rioters dispersed.
People also took out rallies against non-availability of power supply at Emanabad, Garjakh, Dhullay Chowk, Noshehra Road and Fatomand and chanted slogans.
TOBA TEK SINGH: Hundreds of people on Sunday blocked rail track for two hours and forcibly closed level crossing on Pirmah-Kamalia railway line at Pirmahal during protest against Faisalabad Electric Supply Company over more than 20-hour electricity loadshedding.
A group of youngsters staged a sit-in on the track. Scores of citizens from various localities gathered at Water Works Park.
Carrying sticks they marched along Saddar Bazaar, Sabzi Mandi Road, Main Bazaar and Karkhana Road and reached Allah Hoo Chowk on Faisalabad-Pirmahal-Multan Road where they set ablaze old tyres and blocked traffic for more than two hours. They also burnt tyres on different roads and in bazaars as a result traders had to close their shops.
They also staged a sit-in for three hours at Malik Chowk on Faisalabad-Pirmahal-Multan Road. Later, police from Kamalia and Toba reached the spot and held talks with leaders of protesters. They assured the rioters that Fesco and the government would be apprised about their demand to immediately reduce duration of loadshedding hours as a result they dispersed.
At Kamalia, citizens pelted private vehicles with stones and blocked Kamalia-Chichawatni Road for two hours.
At Adda Philour on Rajana-Samundri Road, villagers set tyres on fire, blocked traffic for more than an hour and chanted slogans against Fesco and the PPP government.
Rajana police on Sunday registered a case against 150 villagers who had allegedly damaged vehicles, injured some policemen and blocked traffic during protest against power outages near Adda Kot Khitran on Kamalia-Rajana Road on Saturday night. When contacted, a police official said no arrest had so far been made.
SHEIKHUPURA: Like other parts of province, PML-N activists, officer-bearers and citizens on Sunday held demonstrations in Sheikhupura, Nankana, Ferozwala, Muridke, Shahkot, Sangla Hill and other areas against prolonged electricity loadshedding.
In Sheikhupura, a number of PML-N activists carrying banners and placards staged a sit-in on Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sargodha roads suspending traffic for more than two hours. The protesters chanted slogans against the president and premier for their alleged corruption and hatching conspiracies against the judiciary to conceal their black money.
Speaking on the occasion, MNA Javed Latif, MPAs Pir Ashraf Rasool and Haji Ghulam Nabi said the federal government did not have any interest to resolve the power crisis.
The PML-N workers, led by local leaders at Kot Abdul Malik, blocked motorway near Faizpur Interchange against outages. Later, National Highway and Motorway Police got restored traffic.
FAISALABAD: Dozens of people on Sunday pelted the police with stones on Samundri Road during a demonstration against outages while the police resorted to tear gas.
The rioters, most of them are power loom workers, converged on Samundri Road and blocked the thoroughfare for more than two hours by putting tyres on fire.
The stick-wielding protesters chanted slogans against the federal government and the Fesco officials. They also damaged public property on the road and some billboards. The protesters looted the truck of a soft drink company.
On being informed of the protest, the riots police rushed to the spot and resorted to tear gas. The protesters became furious and pelted the police and its vehicles with stones.
Some other parts of the city -- Dijkot Road, Allama Iqbal Colony, Gulshan Colony, Sargodha Road, Jhang Road -- also witnessed protest against power outages.
The rioters said the federal government had been playing the role of a silent spectator and rulers were enjoying perks and privileges and doing nothing for masses.
SIALKOT: Sialkot was an exception to the extent that protests remained peaceful.
Traders took to the street against what they said unbearable loadshedding that badly hit the industry.
At China Chowk, Sialkot, a number of businessmen staged a peaceful sit-in. They kept traffic closed on main Sialkot-Sambrial-Wazirabad Road for about two hours.
According to Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Naeem Anwar Qureshi, daily 20 to 22 hours long power outages have crippled the surgical industry. He said despite repeated appeals made by the Sialkot business community, the Gepco did not provide any relief to the perturbed exporters and traders. The situation was causing daily Rs1 billion loss to industries.
BAHAWALNAGAR: As many as 10 demonstrations were staged on Sunday against loadshedding while the rioters also attempted to storm the house of ruling party MNA.
People ran amok owing to excessive outages and held demonstrations in Khadimabad Colony, Farooqabad, Minchinabad Road, Bahawli Chowk, Basti Saddar Din, Mubarik Gate, Fowara Chowk, Haroonabad, Mandi Sadiq Ganj and Fort Abbas.
The rioters tried to storm the house of former minister for human rights MNA Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani on Eidgah Road; however a police contingent controlled the situation.
The demonstrators set ablaze tyres, threw traffic out of gear on main roads and got shops closed at Tehsil Bazaar, Dhaban Bazaar and Anarkali Bazaar.
MULTAN: Extremely troubled by the prolonged loadshedding, thousands of protesters in Khanewal district took to the street, ransacked the Mepco office, residences and factories of politicians and clashed with police.
In Jahanian, scores of protesters equipped with clubs emerged from main Saddar Bazaar at about 11.30am and started closing the shops forcibly.
A large group of protesters blocked Railway Double Phattak (gate) at Chak No-112 that links main road of the city. Another group of protesters blocked main Khanewal-Lodhran Road. The third group of rioters blocked TMA Chowk. In the meantime, protesters from 3-Marla Scheme joined the rioters at TMA Chowk from where they reached Wapda House located at Jinnah Housing Scheme. The infuriated mob attacked Wapda office and burnt two vehicles, three transformers and as many motorcycles, damaged computers with clubs and set on fire the entire record.
The protesters at bypass clashed with police when they tried to set ablaze a petrol pump. The mob blocked traffic at Zaffarullah Chowk and tortured some motorists when they tried or insisted on restoring traffic.
The protesters gathered outside the residence of PPP MNA Chaudhry Iftikhar Nazeer at Block No-3. They broke open the main gate and held hostage Haji Nazeer Ahmed, father of MNA Iftikhar, and other people who were present in the house.
The protesters damaged the outer portion of the house; however they were forced to leave the premises by private guards of the MNA.
The protesters also attacked two ginning factories of the MNA and an incident of exchange of firing was also reported there. The security guards of factories handed over eight protesters to the police.
In the meantime, police force led by the Khanewal DSP (legal) reached the town to control the situation.
In Khanewal, protesters including women and children threw stones at the residence of chairman of Pakistan's Earthquake Reconstruction Committee Sardar Hamid Yar Haraj at Civil Line. They blocked traffic by burning tyres and shouted slogans against the government and Mepco. People blocked various roads of the city including Lal Masjid Chowk, Farooq-i-Azam Chowk, Kot Aala Singh Chowk. The protesters also blocked main Multan-Khanewal Road at Pirowal. They also tortured the people who requested to restore traffic.