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Power riots rock Punjab

May 10, 2012

LAHORE, May 10: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif joined on Thursday a demonstration in the city in protest against the prolonged loadshedding.

Violent protesters in Vehari damaged public and private properties and left several people injured in clashes.

They burnt offices of MNA Tehmina Daultana of the PML-N and MPA Tahir Iqbal of PML-Q and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf.

The protesters attacked Rescue 115 offices, destroying equipment and furniture.

They stormed the office of Multan Electric Power Company and burnt the entire record, 35 new transformers and over a dozen motorcycles.

The protesters also ransacked the DCO office.

Police resorted to aerial fire and teargas shelling, which left five protesters injured. About 30 arsonists were arrested. In Lahore, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, along with MPAs Mian Nauman and Ramzan Siddique Bhatti, joined protesters in Chungi Amar Sadhu, a locality close to Model Town. Addressing the protesters, he said he would give a call for a long march on Islamabad if the federal government did not stop “meting out a step-motherly treatment to Punjab”. The chief minister blamed President Asif Zardari for loadshedding and termed it a conspiracy against the people of Punjab. He asked people to remain peaceful and not damage public property during the protests. Shahbaz Sharif said the industrial sector of Punjab was being destroyed through loadshedding under a conspiracy. Hundreds of thousands of labourers were rendered jobless, he added. In Faisalabad, protest against power outages turned violent when power-loom workers pelted a tuition centre with stones and injured three students and damaged vehicles. The protesters held a demonstration outside the office of the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company.A complete strike was observed in Sheikhupura. Traffic on the Lahore-Sargodha Road was suspended when protesters demonstrated outside the Lesco office. In Gujranwala, protesters pelted police with stones when the latter baton-charged them. They smashed windowpanes of vehicles and public property, attempting to besiege government offices, but police foiled their attempts. Demonstrations were also held in Wazirabad, Sialkot and several other cities and town of the province. In Karachi, widespread power outages led many people to take to the streets, raising slogans against the government. The areas worst hit by the outages were Malir, Landhi, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, F. B. Area, Lyari, North Karachi, North Nazimabad, Korangi, Orangi, Landhi, Mahmoodabad, Akhtar Colony and Qayumabad.