Loadshedding at Sehr, Iftar ignites fierce protests across Punjab

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Protests against incessant loadshedding recommenced on Monday with demonstrators taking to the streets in major cities across the Punjab to voice their frustration at prolonged power outages, particularly during Sehr and Iftar.

In Lahore, residents suffering at the hands of unscheduled and prolonged power outages and electricity fluctuation took to the streets in spite of the heat and the fact that many were fasting. Angry marchers called for the federal government to stop treating the Punjab unfairly and demanded that the energy shortfall be addressed on a priority basis.

A group of protesters also attacked the Wapda office in Lahore, demanding that loadshedding be curbed for the month of Ramazan.In the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, angry residents frustrated by power outages took to the streets at dawn and called for an immediate end to unscheduled loadshedding. An SHO and two citizens were injured in a small skirmish in Islamabad as police tried to control the demonstrators.

In Kasur, frustrated citizens ransacked the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco)ís Jambar sub-division in protest of 16-18 hour-long loadshedding and overbilling. Hundreds of residents belonging to Phoolnagar and adjoining villages gathered outside the sub-division and chanted slogans against the government. They also blocked the Multan Road for several hours with trolleys.

Later, they forcibly entered the sub-division office and broke furniture and smashed windows. They also set ablaze office records.Protesters complained that despite repeated complaints of overbilling, Lesco officials had turned a deaf ear to the plight of consumers and had forced them to come out onto the roads. They lamented that the Sehr, Iftar and Taraveeh intervals were not exempt from loadshedding either. Several protesters collapsed due to the sweltering weather and had to be shifted to nearby hospitals.

In Nankana, meanwhile, unscheduled 14-16 hour-long loadshedding continued to paralyse life with business communities complaining of huge financial losses. Women homemakers suffered particularly at Sehri, and complained of water, electricity and gas shortages.

In Faisalabad, residents staged a demonstration against incessant power outages by burning tyres and suspending traffic in and around Kamalia for more than four hours. They chanted vociferous slogans against the government and brandished placards and banners. Later, after negotiating with police officials, they agreed to halt their protest while delivering an ultimatum to the federal minister for water and power to end the prolonged loadshedding for the month of Ramazan or be prepared to face the wrath of the people.

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