Anti-loadshedding protesters tear-gassed

KARACHI, May 16: A crowd of marchers on M.T. Khan Road protesting against prolonged power outages was tear-gassed when they refused to return after an hours-long standoff that caused a severe traffic gridlock on Monday evening.

Police also fired in the air to disperse the protesters, who had blocked the main road with burning tyres causing traffic jams on Club Road, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road and I.I. Chundrigah Road.

The people had taken to the streets against massive electricity breakdowns when the power utility failed to restore the supply.

While there was no official word about any casualty in the action, sources at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre said at least three people, one of them with a bullet wound in the left leg, were brought injured to the health facility.

A large number of protesters emerged at Mereweather Tower shortly after police, traffic police and Rangers officials had succeeded to revive the traffic on M.T. Khan Road. “They set a traffic police kiosk on fire and hurled stones at moving vehicles. The police force has been enhanced to control the situation,” said a Kharadar police station official.

Protest demonstrations against power failures were also staged in Garden, Soldier Bazaar, North Nazimabad and North Karachi. Residents said the power supply remained suspended in some areas for more than 36 hours and in others for last three days.

A protest march from Regal Chowk to Karachi Press Club was also staged by the KESC workers solidarity committee against loadshedding and retrenchment. The marchers demanded cancellation of KESC’s privatisation deal, the reinstatement of employees and end to outages.

The power utility management meanwhile lodged an FIR at the Artillery Maidan police station against eight union activists who the former alleged had asked employees to vacate the Saddar office through “intimidation and life threats”.—Staff Reporter

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