Violent protest over blackouts: Lathi charge, water cannons used to disperse agitators

Report by: 
M SURESH KUMAR
Port Blair
13 Sep 2017

The streets of Aberdeen bazaar leading to Raj Niwas turned into virtual battlefields on Wednesday with police firing tear gas shells, targeting water cannons and wielding lathis to disperse crowd that staged a massive protest against oppressive blackouts. According to reports, the protest march by general public reportedly supported by some auto unions started from Aberdeen Bazar at around 3 pm and later assembled near the gate of Raj Niwas shouting slogans against senior officials of the administration.
The agitated crowd numbering in hundreds including held the area in front of the Raj Niwas by siege shouting slogans, fixing banners on the banyan tree and slammed the administration for failing to address the power crisis that has been taking a toll on consumers in the city and suburban areas for the past many days. As the intensity of the protests grew, the IRBn team armed with Vajra vehicle was rushed to the spot.
According to sources, clashes erupted between police and the agitators after some time following which police resorted to minor force but when the incensed group forcefully tried to break through the barricade, the IRBn team was pressed into action, which used tear gas, canes and water cannons to disperse the crowd. According to reports, some people suffered injuries in the lathi charge including a woman who was shifted to the GB Pant Hospital. The Deputy Commissioner of South Andaman and a senior police official of Aberdeen Police Station also sustained injuries when some agitated members from the crowd pelted stones at the police personnel.
“As citizens of this country, we have all rights to raise problems faced by the people. We are not going to be cowed down by such police action and the intensity of the protest against such ruthless power-cuts will only intensify till the administration normalizes the situation. Several weeks have passed since the Electricity Department is carrying out excessive doses on blackouts on a daily basis, but the administration has failed to take remedial steps to deal with the power crisis. There are widespread reports of damages to electronic gadgets from different parts of the city due to unannounced power-cuts,” said some agitators.
“The law enforcing agencies targeting us without any provocation and use of lathis and water cannons was "unlawful and unwarranted”. We’re holding the agitation peacefully when police used canes to disperse the crowd following which we were forced to retaliate. Many persons sustained injuries in the clashes and were shifted to GB Pant Hospital for treatment. The demonstration will, however, continue tomorrow till the administration accedes to our demands and provides uninterrupted power supply to consumers in the city and South Andaman,” said some others.
When reports last poured, the agitators were still in front of the Raj Niwas demanding to meet the Lt. Governor and senior officials of the administration to place their grievances.