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Residents turn violent against power cuts

June 02, 2012

KARACHI, June 2: Frustrated residents left without power and water took to the streets, burnt tyres, pelted moving vehicles with stones and blocked main Shahrah-i-Pakistan in Liaquatabad No 10 on Saturday in protest against the failure of the Karachi Electric Supply Company to restore their power supply.

They complained that they had been without electricity since Friday afternoon and the KESC was not interested in fixing the problem and restoring power to their area.

Initially, hundreds of residents of two apartment complexes — Al-Karam Square and Apsara Apartments — in Liaquatabad staged a protest demonstration against the KESC. However, some of the protesters turned violent and started pelting moving vehicles with stones and blocked the arterial Shahrah-i-Pakistan for vehicular traffic. This also resulted in a traffic mess on adjoining streets.

The violent protest forced the law-enforcement agencies to step in. Police and Rangers personnel reached the scene and also fired into the air to disperse the protesters.

Area DSP Wajahat Hussain told Dawn that the angry residents came out of their homes around Saturday afternoon. “These are mostly residents of Al-Karam and Apsara apartments who have lost it completely as they burn tyres and pelt stones. Traffic has been badly affected,” he said.

“First they didn’t have electricity for over 24 hours due to a fire in the main transformer in the area and now they are without water, too, as they can’t run their motors to fill their overhead water tanks,” the area DSP added.

Asked if there was any repair work going on to restore the power after such a strong protest, the DSP said: “That is the main problem between the people of the area and the KESC. The KESC has refused to fix the problem until their bills have been paid”.

Meanwhile, the KESC said that the incident of fire at their Al-Karam substation had been due to overloading caused by too many illegal connections in the area.

Till late in the evening, talks between residents and KESC officials were under way, and according to the area DSP the power utility was going to restore electricity till late in night.

The blocked roads had also been opened for vehicular traffic, the DSP added.

Earlier, in 2010, the KESC had twice disconnected the power supply of the two apartment complexes for non-payment of dues. However, the power utility had to restore the electricity following violent protests by the residents. Later, the KESC and the defaulting consumers struck a deal following negotiations led by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and an agreement on a payment schedule for outstanding dues was signed.