MIRPURKHAS: An inquiry into the stampede leading to the death of a labourer and injuries to several other people at Gulistan-i-Baldia Park here has been initiated by the district administration, officials said on Sunday.

The stampede occurred when several hundred men and women, waiting desperately for hours to buy wheat flour at subsidised rate, stormed the food department consignment as soon as it arrived at the designated spot on Saturday. A labourer, Harsingh Kolhi, father of six, was crushed to death during the stampede while several other men and women suffered injuries. The policemen posted at the site to maintain discipline failed to control the crowd. Soon after the stampede was over, a large number of shocked and enraged people present at the site took Kolhi’s body to the local press club and held a noisy demonstration over the incident. They demanded registration of a murder case against all officials responsible for the stampede as well as the flour crisis across the province. The demand was supported by all opposition parties and many civil society organisations.

Amid the uproar over the Gulisan-i-Baldia incident, Mirpurkhas Deputy Commissioner Zainul Abideen Memon ordered an inquiry into the whole episode and constituted a four-member committee headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner-II Prem Chand. The other members of the committee are Shuja’abad Assistant Commissioner Saleem Shaikh, a DSP and the official in charge of the local CIA unit.

The committee has been assigned the task of looking into the circumstances leading to the stampede, the failure of the area police to maintain discipline at the site and the actual cause of Harsingh Kolhi’s death.

The committee has been directed to submit its findings to the DC within the next three days.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sindh women wing leader Dr Shaheen Arain visited the bereaved family to condole the death of Harsingh Kolhi.

Earlier on Saturday night, MPA Syed Zulfikar Ali Shah along with DC Memon had visited Kolhi’s home in Malhi Colony to offer their condolences to the bereaved family and relatives.

They assured the family of all possible help on behalf of the provincial government.

Speaking to this correspondent, the DC expressed his regret over the incident and said he was bound to implement orders and directives of the provincial government, which had decided to ensure the supply of subsidised flour at official rate through trucks, to be parked at designated spots.

He said he was working day and night to arrange supplies from food department’s godowns to millers, chakkis and the stalls meant for the delivery of flour bags to the general public. Mr Memon said he was also monitoring the mechanism for the supply of wheat stocks to millers and chakkis and prompt grinding so that no delay was caused in the distribution of flour.

Political leaders and activists as well as civil society organisations and the local chapter of the Ulema Action Committee continued to raise their voice against flour crisis and the untoward incident in Mirpurkhas.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2023

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