• Power riots erupt in as many as 18 areas
• Police fire tear gas, resort to baton-charge
• Woman protester dies; police ‘ready’ for probe
KARACHI: The prolonged loadshedding and frequent breakdowns amid extremely humid and hot weather conditions sparked a storm of public protests around the city as thousands of residents in many localities took to streets on Tuesday to vent their anger at K-Electric resulting in riots and clashes between protesters and police in the metropolis.
Violent protests broke out in around 18 localities of Karachi in which many people were injured and a 60-year-old woman had died amid shelling and police baton-charge.
Protesters burnt old used tyres on roads, blocked traffic and shouted slogans against what they called incompetent management of the KE that had failed to maintain power supply even in the so-called exempted areas.
People took to streets in Lines Area, Garden, Mauripur and Nishtar Road where they blocked roads and burnt tyres.
A large number of people protested against outages and water shortages in Korangi, Liaquatabad, Landhi, Gharibabad, Saddar, Lucky Star, Malir, Saudabad, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Korangi Crossing and many neighbourhoods of Scheme 33 and blocked traffic in protest.
The residents were protesting over up to 14-16 hours of power loadshedding in their respective neighbourhoods.
Angry protesters also came out on roads in PIB Colony, M T Khan Road, Power House Chowrangi and Sakhi Hassan areas.
Mauripur Road becomes flashpoint
Police fired tear-gas shells and used batons to disperse the protesting residents which aggravated the situation, especially in Lyari.
The main Mauripur Road was the flashpoint where residents blocked the road on Monday night against hours-long loadshedding, according to officials and witnesses.
During the protest, Mira Bibi Karim, 60, fell and died, Edhi Foundation spokesperson said. However, the police claimed that the woman did not die because of the baton charge or shelling.
She was initially taken to the Lyari General Hospital and later on her body was taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi to ascertain the exact cause of death.
Talks between the residents and authorities to reopen the road failed upon which the police resorted to tear-gas shelling and baton-charge to restore the traffic flow on the main artery, which connects Karachi Port Trust and the industrial area of SITE.
The protesters dispersed for a while, but again resumed the protest, said City SSP Asif Bughio. He said that electricity went out in Lyari at 4pm on Monday. After the prolonged disruption, hundreds of residents blocked the road for hours.
The law-enforcers engaged residents in talks to restore the traffic, but the negotiations failed. The police resorted to baton-charge and the protesters also attacked them with stones and sticks.
The City SSP said they contacted with KE management and the deputy commissioner of South was also approached to ‘calm down’ the protesters and control the situation.
A traffic police spokesperson said that because of the protests on Mauripur Road, traffic load was diverted to Jinnah Bridge and M.T. Khan Road.
On Mauripur Road near Dua Hotel, a huge protest was under way since Monday. Both tracks were closed for traffic and commuters were advised to use alternative routes.
Deputy Commissioner-South Abdul Sattar Esani told Dawn that the protesters had three demands — release of detained protesters, exemption from loadshedding and an inquiry to ascertain the cause of death of the old woman.
He said after successful talks, the sit-in ended, the detained protesters were released and the KE assured that they would not resort to loadshedding at nights. The police would also initiate an inquiry in to the death of the woman.
Meanwhile DIG-South Sharjeel Kharal said the police were compelled to take the action as the Mauripur Road was continuously blocked for around 15-20 hours since Monday. Police and Rangers took the action to get the road vacated.
About the death of the woman, he said if the heirs wanted an inquiry or an FIR, the police would look into it.
Protests cause traffic mess
The public protests over loadshedding and water shortages resulted in agonising traffic jams across the city.
According to the traffic police, protests broke out in Liaquatabad at Dak Khana bus stop near Baloch Masjid.
The residents burnt tyres and blocked the road resulting in massive traffic jam. The vehicles were diverted to alternative routes.
The residents of Shah Faisal Colony-2 also protested against power and water shortages.
The residents of Kala Pul held a protest on main Korangi Road in Defence.
Shopkeepers protested against the loadshedding on Dawood Pota Road near United Bakery. The road was closed for traffic.
On 8000 Road from Dawood Chowrangi to Murtaza Chowrangi, traffic was suspended due to the protest. Traffic was being diverted to alternate routes.
Till late in the night, enraged people remained on city roads to record their protest against the prolonged loadshedding carried out by the KE.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022