PESHAWAR - Protests against prolonged power outages in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Saturday turned violent as people from different areas of Malakand Agency and Peshawar took to the streets and ransacked offices and grid stations of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).
In Malakand Agency, the residents of Dheri Julagram falling into the constituencies of MNA Juned Akbar and MPA Shakeel Ahmad, forced their entry into the office of sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO) in Batkhela and torched its furniture and record.
The agency administration lodged an FIR against the MNA and the MPA and arrested them on the spot. People from Totakan, Bukhaila Banda and Deri Allah Dand areas also joined the protests.
Later, MNA Juned Akbar and MPA Shakeel Ahmad, talking to media persons, said despite 100 percent recovery from the area, the Pesco was observing 18-hour-long loadshedding disrupting lives of the people and creating shortage of water.
They said they did not fear jails and would go to any extent to force the Pesco to restore power supply to the area. They added Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali admitted 100 percent recovery from Malakand Agency, but even then the people were facing prolonged loadshedding.
Meanwhile, residents of Hazar Khwani in Peshawar came out of their houses and tried to besiege the grid station, however, the police thwarted their attempt. The protest demonstration was led by MPA Fazal Elahi and other elders of the area. The protesters, while carrying sticks and placards, warned to attack the grid station if power outages were not reduced.
MPA Fazal Elahi who belongs to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, talking to The Nation, alleged the Pesco authorities had been directed by the federal government to punish the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for supporting PTI in the last general elections. He said one of the Pesco officers had told him that clear instructions had been issued to Pesco to carry out 18 to 20 hours loadshedding in KP.
He warned the people could not tolerate further loadshedding and would not leave the grid station until they were guaranteed sufficient reduction in the power outages.
The protest leaders negotiated with the Pesco authorities over the matter, but the officials refused to give any relief in the loadshedding, citing over 70 percent line losses in the area.
On the other hand, Wapda spokesman Shaukat Afzal said an FIR had been lodged against Fazal Elahi and his supporters, but the provincial government was not taking action against them.
Pesco claimed that enraged protesters attacked 132KV grid stations of Hazar Khwani, Tajabad and industrial area.