ISLAMABAD: Thousands of government officials from different departments, including Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) stormed into the capital from different directions and staged a sit-in at Express Chowk over the proposed privatisation of Wapda, besides, possible downsizing.
They also demanded 25pc increase in their salaries.
Officials of the capital administration and police said the protest was concluded after a delegation of protesters met with the Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan who assured them that the authority will not be privatised and there will be no downsizing. The decision over an increase in salary will be taken up in the upcoming cabinet meeting, he informed the delegation.
During the protest, an official from Wapda, identified as Riaz Khan, native of Rawalakot, suffered a cardiac arrest, officials of the capital administration and police said, adding he was shifted to Poly Clinic where he passed away.
Employees’ unions of Wapda reached the capital from Punjab and KP, they said, adding motorcades, comprising 100 to 150 vehicles reached National Press Club from Rawat and Motorway. Later, they were joined by Wapda staff, members of unions and bodies of pensioners and labourers. Around 4,000 people gathered at the protest.
The protesters marched towards D-Chowk in the afternoon and reached Express Chowk. Containers and barbed wires were placed at old Parade Ground to block them from entering the Red Zone.
Over 600 well-equipped police officials besides Rangers were deployed at the spot to intercept them and maintain law and order. After negotiation with the minister, leaders of Wapda Employees’ Union announced to conclude the sit-it.
However, some of the protesters - around 1,500 - from utility services along with labourers remained at the spot; they met Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan who told them that their demands will be addressed in the upcoming cabinet meeting.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021
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