Mmansehra    -   Residents of Balakot on Thursday staged a protest on the 15th anniversary of the 2005 devastating earthquake as they demanded allotment of plots in New Balakot City Housing Project without any further delay.

The protesters blocked Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road to traffic for more than eight hours. People also offered fateha at the mass graves of the martyrs of the 2005 earthquake.

Addressing the rally, president of the traders’ body in Balakot Javed Iqbal said: “We want immediate allotment of plots and reconstruction of health and educational infrastructure, which couldn’t be rebuilt even 15 years after the tragedy.”

Activists of the New Balakot Tehreek, which had been staging a sit-in since last week, also took to the streets separately and blocked Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road at Ayub Bridge, suspending traffic between Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. People travelling within the district and between GB and KP remained stranded in long queues of vehicles on both sides of the road.

President of local traders’ union Javed Iqbal said that successive governments didn’t pay heed to the problems faced by the residents of red zone Balakot.

Another elder, Mian Ashraf, said people of Balakot didn’t accept the public-private partnership to develop New Balakot City Housing Project to attract foreign investment.

“We want only allotment of plots as per the Supreme Court ruling without any further delay and the government should not give us a lollipop in the name of public-private partnership,” said Ashraf.

The road, which was blocked at about 9am, reopened at 5pm after the police held talks with the protesters. Commissioner Riaz Mahsud also addressed the protesters via phone call and assured them that all their problems would be solved soon.