Flour distribution stampedes kill one, injure several in Charsadda, Kohat

Published March 24, 2023
People flock to a flour distribution point in Charsadda on Thursday. — Dawn
People flock to a flour distribution point in Charsadda on Thursday. — Dawn

CHARSADDA/KOHAT/LAKKI MARWAT: A man was killed and several people injured during free flour distribution stampedes in Charsadda and Kohat districts on Thursday.

Also, a man died of critical injuries he suffered after the boundary wall of a flour mill in Bannu district collapsed on him.

Flour distribution is under way across the province in line with the caretaker government’s announcement of the supply of Rs19.77 billion flour to over 5.7 million deserving families of the province free of charge during Ramazan, the month of fasting.

A stampede happened in the main Charsadda bazaar when hundreds of people showed up to receive free flour. Sher Afzal was killed and Jamal, Sher Alam and a woman injured in the incident, which, according to witnesses, occurred after some people fell on the ground.

Man dies in Bannu as flour mill’s wall collapses on him

The crowd later staged a protest.

Deputy commissioner Adnan Farid said he had ordered a probe into the incident.

He also said in future, flour would be distributed at village council level.

Also in the day, an elderly man was killed and four people injured in Bannu when a wall fell on them on a Bannu-Miramshah Road flour mill ahead of flour distribution.

An official said the incident occurred after a truck hit the wall near the main entrance to the place.

He identified the deceased as Gul Khan, 65, and the injured as Gul Azad, 85, Shehzada, 55, Mustafa, 20, and Bilal, 16, and said they all were buried under the wall debris.

The official said the body and the injured were shifted to the district headquarters hospital.

He said the flour distribution point was established at the flour mill due to the availability of a large open space to prevent people from trouble and ensure transparency of the exercise.

The official said in future, people would get flour from the notified dealers.

Meanwhile, several people, including women, were injured when the police baton-charged people at a flour distribution point in Gumbat area on the outskirts of Kohat city.

The women, who suffered head injuries, were shifted to a local hospital.

Flour bag snatching and scuffles were also reported at the only two distribution points set up in the district for a scattered population of 2.5 million.

Hundreds of people blocked the Kohat-Gumbat section of the Kohat-Rawalpindi Road for hours complaining they’re struggling to benefit from the government’s free flour scheme.

They, including both men and women, said they waited for long hours in queues while keeping fast.

When contacted, assistant commissioner Usman Ashraf, who supervised the exercise, confirmed “mismanagement” during flour distribution and said the administration expected the turnout of 1,000 people but instead, 3,000 people turned up and didn’t line up prompting the baton charge by the police.

He said the administration had decided to increase the number of distribution points to 30 for giving away three 10kg flour bags to every deserving family free of charge for the month of fasting.

Mr Ashraf said 25 flour suppliers had been engaged for distribution.

Local elder Tanveer Jiala and councillor Abdur Rabi flayed the administration over the misery of flour seekers, especially from far-flung areas, and said two distribution points were too little to cater to the district’s population.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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