FAISALABAD: Violent protests against power loadshedding continued in different cities of the Punjab, as citizens, powerloom and industrial workers attacked grid stations, a PPP office and a bank in Faisalabad on Thursday. Powerloom workers belonging to Sadhar and Ghulam Muhammadabad gathered on the Jhang Road and blocked for several hours the main road leading to the airport by burning tyres. They chanted slogans against the government and said that long hours of loadshedding had rendered thousands of workers jobless. Later, they marched towards the grid stations and damaged its windows and gates by pelting it with stones. The demonstrators went to the District Council Hall and damaged several shops. They demanded immediate resignation of Federal Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar [Unlink]
and erected barricades, blocking the traffic for over an hour. Later, they reached the Jinnah Colony and tried to attack the PPP district office. When the protesters reached the Kotwali Road, a security guard of a private bank started aerial firing. The protestors retaliated and pelted the bank with stones, causing damage to the windows. The demonstrators also attacked the PPP city office on the Kotwali Road but dispersed when the police baton-charged them. As a result, two protesters were injured. However, hide-and-seek between the protesters and shopkeepers continued for several hours. The protesters damaged a shop when its owner resorted to aerial firing. After getting information, the local administration ordered the closure of all petrol pumps as a precautionary measure. Moreover, a mob attacked the Fesco headquarters and pelted it with stones. They chanted slogans against the government and Fesco and blocked the eastern and western banks of a canal by dumping garbage in it. As a result, traffic remained suspended for over four hours on the Canal Road. However, officials had vacated their office on the orders of the Fesco chief executive to avert any mishap. Later, the demonstrators dispersed peacefully. Meanwhile, the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) president Muzammal Sultan, vice-president Rehan Nasim Bharara and office-bearers of different trade bodies said they would besiege the residences of ruling parties’ leaders on June 5 if the federal government did not reduce the duration of loadshedding. They said that the rulers had adopted a cruel and indifferent attitude towards the plight of people. “The rulers are not interested in restructuring the national economy and now illogical polices have been adopted to deprive the people of bread and butter,” they maintained. They criticised the government for not implementing the decisions of the 2nd National Energy Conference, adding that the business community had no political ambitions and was forced to stage demonstrations. They added that a complete strike would be observed if unscheduled loadshedding did not stop. Meanwhile, the Tajir Ittehad decided to observe a three-day strike against the unscheduled loadshedding of electricity today (Friday). The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed grave concern over the power riots in Faisalabad and feared that the violent protests may engulf other parts of the country if the government failed to take corrective measures immediately. The LCCI President, Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, said that despite tall claims by the government, the electricity situation was fast turning from bad to worse and forcing the people to take to the streets. In Chunian, Anjuman Tajran, Chunian Bar Association, gold smith association and people from all walks of life observed a complete strike and took out a rally against power loadshedding. The protesters damaged the furniture of XEN and SDO offices and smashed windowpanes of a rest house. Protesters burnt tyres in front of a Wapda complaint office. XEN Arsal told journalists that the protesters attacked him and his SDO. He said the protesters destroyed the offices of XEN and SDO and alleged that the police did nothing to stop the protesters. In Nankana Sahib, nine students of different schools fell unconscious due to scorching heat and loadshedding. A protest rally was also taken out against hours’ long loadshedding in Pakpattan. The rally was taken out from Nagina Chowk and culminated on the College Road. The protesters were chanting slogans against Wapda and demanded an end to loadshedding. In Toba Tek Singh, PTI leader Ghiasuddin Janbaz continued hunger strike till death on the second consecutive day against prolonged power outages in the city. The condition of Ghiasuddin Janbaz deteriorated in the camp outside Fesco Complex in the afternoon and doctors provided him medical aid. ADC Haroon Rashid and DSP Raja Ghulam Abbas held talks with Ghiasuddin Janbaz and urged him to end the hunger strike but he refused. Addressing a gathering, Ghiasuddin Janbaz demanded the Fesco chief executive to announce loadshedding schedule for Toba Tek Singh. He said that he would continue the strike till acceptance of his demand. INP adds: Electricity shortfall on Thursday reached 6,400 megawatts due to technical problems at power houses. The authorities have expressed concerns over massive tripping amid increased electricity consumption due to severe heat waves. According to details, the generation of electricity was 11,832MW while the requirement was 18,232MW. In Lahore and other cities, power outages have increased to 14 hours while in villages it has reached 20 hours. Because of power outages and severe heat waves in many parts of the country, several areas are facing water shortages as well. caption FAISALABAD: Residents attacking the Fesco office during a demonstration against excessive electricity loadshedding here on Thursday.