KARACHI, AUG 26: Protests continued in the port city against the exorbitant rise in the power tariff and inclusion of excessive taxes in the electricity bills.
At some places people incensed by overbilling burnt electricity bills to vent their anger, while some political forces warned of protest sit-ins outside the K-Electric offices.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi has staged over 200 protest demonstrations to observe a protest day against skyrocketing increase in electricity bills and overcharging on part of the K-Electric, here on Friday.
JI Karachi Ameer Engr Hafiz Naeemur Rehman presided over a big protest demonstration by traders as part of the protest day held at main Jamia Cloth Market. A large number of shopkeepers and traders participated in the demonstration. Besides the Jamia Cloth market, demonstrations were staged outside the mosques after Friday prayers and others spots in the city.
Traders’ leaders including Atiq Mir, Mahmood Hamid, Shaikh Alam, Asif Gulfam, Sharif Memon among others addressed the protest demonstration. Speaking on the occasion, Rehman hailed the traders community for raising their voice at a time when a very few people dare to speak out against injustice.
He said that the traders’ protest will open floodgates of reaction across the city against the KE. On the occasion, he said Sharjeel Goplani’s electricity connection was cut for non-payment of few thousand rupees but no one dare to touch the KE despite the fact that it was defaulter of Rs662 to the national grid, Rs177 billion to Sui Southern Gas Company and Rs50 billion to Karachiites under the head of clawback.
On the occasion, he said that all the options, including sit-in outside the K-Electric headquarters or the Sindh Governor House are on cards and the JI would decide after consultation with the trade leaders and the civil society.
TLP warns of protests
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has given a one-week ultimatum to K-Electric and NIPRA to withdraw the hike in power tariff; otherwise, be ready for strong protests.
“NIPRA and K-Electric’s actions have pushed the poor to the brink of suicide. We stand with the people and the traders of the city and fully support them against the power utility’s exorbitant billing,” TLP Karachi Ameer Mufti Qasim Fakhri said during a press conference held on Friday with trader representatives at the Bahadurabad Mosque.
The esteemed leader of the trader community, Sharjeel Goplani, has been framed by K-Electric through an FIR. The baseless case against Goplani should be dismissed, he said.
Goplani granted bail
Additional District and Sessions Judge South granted interim bail to Sharjeel Goplani and directed him to be part of an inquiry in the case of KE personnel being held hostage by traders in the Timber Market area.
Gopalani’s attorney said, “a case has been filed against my client on the basis of unfounded claims of KE workers. My client wants to be part of investigation, and the police shouldn’t be allowed to arrest him.” The Investigating Officer (IO) stated a case was registered on behalf of Tahir Ali, a manager at KE, against Timber Market Traders Association President Sharjeel Goplani and 25 to 30 unidentified people for hurling threats to kill, riots, and illegal detention.
Gopalani was given interim bail in the case by the court against the surety bond of Rs50,000. The police will not arrest the accused until September 4 due to a court order.
KE CEO issues video statement
K-Electric CEO Monis Alvi has stated that violence against KE employees is unacceptable. “Our workforce is our asset and a source of pride for our organisation,” he said in a video statement.
Alvi said, “we are aware that the public is unhappy with the rising electricity prices, but resorting to violence and agitation will not lead to any improvement in the situation.”
He clarified that the authority to determine electricity rates lies with NIPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) and the Ministry of Energy, and avoiding bill payment is not a solution to the issue. He further emphasized, “just as we make payments for purchased commodities like petrol in our daily lives, similarly, paying for consumed electricity is also a responsibility. No religion, law, society, or ethical framework tolerates acts of theft like stealing electricity.”
Monis Alvi stated that despite the most challenging circumstances, KE was grateful for the city and consumers for trusting its services.