By Najeem Khan
Tension gripped the Dargai area of Malakand division, on Monday, as protesters and levies official clashed leaving two dead and 11 others injured.
The military was called to rein-in a protest against persistent power outages in the area that turned violent. At least one person, reportedly from the youth wing of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was shot dead while 11 others were left injured during the clash.
The protesters set ablaze a levies station, a Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and sub-office of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in Malakand following reports that Javed Khan Tufan – a former PTI student wing president – had been killed. In a bid to control the situation, levies officials fired teargas shells and rubber bullets on the protesters. The protesters from Dobandi, Warter and Qadam Khel Union Councils were demonstrating against unannounced power outages in the area when they stormed Dargai power station and set it on fire, destroying Wapda records and parked vehicles.
Both sides blamed each other for the bloodshed; senior levies officials denied reports of any straight fire causing the death of the PTI official and instead alleged the shot that killed him came from the protesters.
At the time of filing this report, traffic on Mardan-Malakand Road remained suspended as protesters staged a demonstration with the body of the deceased on the road. Despite tall claims of uninterrupted power supply during sehri and iftari by utility providers, the beginning of the holy month Ramazan saw massive load-shedding across the country.
On May 17, hundreds of enraged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists broke down the gate of the Wapda House in Peshawar and stormed inside during their protest against persistent power outages in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The PTI protesters chanted slogans against the federal government, holding it responsible for the power crisis.
Led by Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Ayesha Gulalai, the protesters demanded that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led (PML-N) federal government and Wapda officials stop the hours-long spells of power outages in the province and fulfil their promise of a load-shedding-free Pakistan.
The situation is now on high alert in the area with armed forces being called in to stamp out the possibility of any other untoward incident.
While the protests continue as the body of one of the deceased has been placed on one of the main roads and communications from Malakand to other parts of the country have been disrupted.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of PESCO stated in a press release that miscreants attacked the office of the SDO1 and SDO2 in the early morning of the day and set ablaze the office records as well as shattering the doors and windows of the office.
The statement also said that the protesters burned down the vehicles present at the premises.
He said Wapda was working on the Palai line and power had been cut off from the area due to the working of Wapda employees on the line.
Whereas, local elders and members of the Jirga were also taken into confidence in this regard.