Protests and hunger strikes reign in Quetta
QUETTA: Police arrested 300 peasants and students on Monday. Hunger strikes camps remain in front of the press club.
Later, the Balochistan Assembly Speaker Jamal Shah Kakar prorogued the session due to incomplete quorum. However, protestors waiting for the session tried to reach the assembly to register their complaints.
Police foiled attempts by the farmer community and took hundreds of protestors to the police station. Later, the home affairs minister announced the release of the farmers but they refused to leave the station in protest. Many others reached the station to join the protestors. Taj Agha, Zamindar Action Committee chairman, said the protestors had refused to leave because they wanted to know the reason for their arrest. However, Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Zahoor Parvez said the police had arrested no one. He added that farmers were brought to the police station because they were protesting in front of the assembly building.
Farmers were protesting against electricity load shedding and power fluctuation as it was damaging their tube well machinery and destroy their fields. Agha said that farmers in most parts of Balochistan were facing load shedding between 4 to 18 hours per day. Many farmers have lost their seed due to a low water supply. One farmer said that there were no national grid stations in Balochistan, adding that the province was being provided electricity on an outdated transmission line. Balochistan was provided only two per cent of the total electricity produced in Pakistan, he said.
A spokesman of the Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QUESCO) said there was about Rs 800 million outstanding dues to farmers. Besides the provincial and federal government, QUESCO gives 100 per cent subsidy to farmers. They pay Rs 4,000 per month whereas they consume electricity worth Rs 40,000 per month. There are 17,000 tube wells in Balochistan. Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) protested in front of the Balochistan Assembly against the alleged arrest of their leaders in Karachi in March. They chanted against the government and demanded their immediate release. Leaders of the MQM and MSF resigned from their offices and have been protesting for two weeks. MPA Akbar Mengal said that Balochi students were afraid of insecurity in Pakistan and feared that the arrested BSO leaders had been killed.
Unemployed engineers are still on hunger strike. azizullah khan