Protesters ransack power utility office in Dadu
DADU: Protesters, including activists of former chief minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi’s Awami Ittehad Party, ransacked offices of the Sukkur Electric Power Company and burnt down furniture and record during a protest against prolonged loadshedding and inflated power bills here on Monday.
Activists of the Ittehad, shopkeepers and members of general public led by party leaders Khalid Soomro, Nazeer Ahmed Leghari and Ghulam Shah Malkani gathered at New Chowk and then reached Sepco offices after marching on different roads.
They staged a sit-in outside the office on nearby railways tracks and Indus Highway for three hours. During the sit-in, some overcharged activists barged into the office, held the staff hostage, damaged computers and set ablaze record and furniture in the office of the of Sepco’s executive engineer and revenue officer.
By the time police arrived there most of the protesters had dispersed and they laid hands on just a few who lagged behind.
Earlier, Khalid Soomro said while addressing the protesters that residents of Dadu and adjoining areas were made suffer 13-hour long loadshedding. Despite repeated requests, consumers were not informed in advance about schedule of loadshedding, he said.
He said the power utility was issuing detection and inflated bills to poor consumers and no official was ready to take action against the officials involved in this scam despite several complainants sent to senior officials.
Ittehad leader and president of chamber of commerce and industry Ghulam Shah Malkani said that loadshedding had seriously impacted business activities and shopkeepers would have no option but to close down their business if loadshedding continued.
Superintendent engineer of Sepco’s Dadu circle tried to justify the loadshedding, saying all parts of the country were equally facing it. Duration of loadshedding in the town was eight hours, not 13, he said.
He said that everyone had right to record his protest but it was unlawful to burn down offices and record. This was the third time Sepco offices and record had been set ablaze, he said.
He said they had recovered the record after hectic efforts. Pensioners and retired persons would suffer the most because of burning of the record, he added.
He said that some elements wanted to take illegal advantage from Sepco officials, hence the violent protest. The protesters barged into the Sepco offices, attacked the staff and burnt down the record, he said.
He said that he informed MNA Rafique Ahmed Jamali and Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq as well as law enforcement agencies to seek their help but none was forthcoming.
He termed it an act of terrorism and said the power utility would move the police station and seek legal action against these persons.
Wapda Hydero Central Labour Union at a meeting chaired by nuin leader Mohammad Waryal Mirani threatened to suspend power supply to the district if security was not provided to employees.
Mr Mirani told Dawn that instead of taking action against the troublemakers police were just watching them like mere onlookers. He demanded arrest of all people involved in ransacking offices and record.
Dadu DPO Javaid Jiskani said that police were told that the protest would be peaceful. Hence, 15 policemen were deployed outside the Sepco offices and 50 at various places in the town but suddenly the protesters were joined by 2,000 to 2,500 people, he said.
He said that only 15 to 25 people among the protesters were active in ransacking the offices. Police reached there when they were setting fire to offices and arrested four of them. Raids were carried out to arrest the rest, he said.
The SHO of Dadu Town, Ali Akbar Channa, said that seven people namely Qurban Surhyo, Bablo, Mohammad Salim, Shahid, Nissar, Nadeem, Khuda Bux had been arrested under an FIR lodged by Sepco officials and office-bearers.