MARDAN/ISLAMABAD - Residents of Rashaki village, Nowshera staged a violent protest against what they said excessive loadshedding and set on fire 220KV grid station here Friday, causing power blackout from Swabi to Chitral.

Hundreds of protesters staged a protest rally against the ongoing power loadshedding, blocking the main road for traffic for several hours. The newly-elected councillor and other elders of the village led the protesters. Following the situation, a police team reached there and baton charged the protesters to disperse them.

Later, the charged protesters started marching towards Mardan and entered the 220KV grid station located on Mardan-Nowshera Road near the residence of former CM Ameer Haider Hoti. The protesters started beating the grid station staff and also damaged furniture of the office. They also set on fire the office record and damaged vehicles parked inside the grid station.

The charged protesters were chanting slogans against the Wapda authorities and provincial rulers for not resolving the issue of power loadshedding on permanent basis.

According to sources, the protesters also resorted to aerial firing; however, they started moving back to their native village Rashaki in the evening.

Police personnel also reached the spot in a large number; however, they avoided any clash with the protesters. The police officials said that they haven't registered any FIR of the incident and arrested anyone so far.

The grid station staff started repairing the damaged wires; however, power supply to the areas could not be restored till filling of this report. The officials said the repairing process could take several hours.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khwaja Asif took serious notice of the mob attack on grid station and directed the NTDC and Pesco officials to take immediate steps and ensure restoration of electricity supply to the areas.

According to a hand out, the minister strongly condemned the attack on 220KV grid station which deprived the people of a vast area of electricity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said the attackers are from the areas where electricity theft is on the rise, and the Pesco has to suffer 99 per cent losses. He also directed the officials in the ministry to remain in constant touch with the NTDC, Pesco and provincial authorities for quick restoration of electricity.

Kh Asif asked the officials in the ministry to strongly take up the matter with the provincial government for apprehending the culprits and taking measures for ensuring security of the national installations.