SWABI - Power protesters torched Swabi grid station on Swabi-Jahangira road at Saturday night during a protest against excessive electricity loadshedding, wherein police opened aerial fire and used teargas to disperse the mob.

Soon after the Isha prayer, announcements were made on loudspeakers in various localities, especially in Maneri. Leaders of different political parties appealed to the people to come out and join the protest march against the massive loadshedding in Ramazan.

People turned enraged because there was no electricity for the entire day and even at the time of Maghrib Azan (Iftar) and taraveeh, they remained deprived of the electricity supply. They said that out of 11 electricity feeders in the district only the Tordher feeder was having the electricity supply while the remaining were without power for the whole day and when they contacted the officers concerned they pretended that the electricity was stopped from the centre.

They said later the Marghuz feeder also resumed the power supply when a high-ranking officer approached to distinguished officer of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) but people of the remaining areas were in trouble due to sizzling weather and Ramazan. They gathered in Karnal Sher Khan Chowk and marched to the gird station which is situated about a mile away from the district headquarter. On way to grid station whatever came in their way all were smashed and even the Awami National Party district office and the signboards of the provincial Minister for Ushr and Zakat, Zar Shaid Khan were destroyed. Zar Shaid belongs to Maneri and majority of protesters were from his home village.

As they reached the grid station they entered in the premises and started smashing and destroying the offices and electricity instruments while the staff of the grid was watching the entire scene helplessly. Later they also torched the gate area of the grid station and were on way to destroy the remaining property. Soon the police reached to the grid station to quell with the protesters because the people were not ready to leave. To disperse the protesters, police opened aerial firing and used teargases. Police said no one was injured but the protesters said that about six to seven people got minor injuries while fleeing from the grid station during the use of teargases and aerial firing. There were also reports that the protesters and police exchanged fire but it was not confirmed by the officials.

The hide and seek between the protesters continued till mid-night After retreating from the grid station Shah Wali, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf district leader told this correspondent that Pesco officials along with the government officials should check the record and unearth the cause that why so prolonged loadshedding was being arried out in the district which is homed of Tarbela Dam and Ghazi Barotha.

In a mid-night meeting of Pesco officers it was decided to register an FIR against the protesters in the city police station. The FIR was registered by Hayat Khan, incharge of the grid station and foreman Gufran Khan They were escorted by security men to the police station.

The names of the protesters mentioned in FIR are: Shah Wali, Jahaz Khan, Sher Rehman, Ahmad Ali, Javid Zaman, Waheed Khan, Yusuf Ali, Zar Dost Khan, Wasim Shah, Gul Bahar, Sharafat Khan, Murad Ali of Maneri and Murad Ali of Swabi. When contacted Mr Wali told this correspondent that the FIR has been registered against 32 people but the police said that only the aforementioned people are included in the FIR. Murad Ali and Shah Wali’s father, Khair Wali have been arrested by police and they also raided numerous other areas for arresting more people.