MUZAFFARGARH: Scores of women blocked Muzaffargarh-Alipur Road at Khangarh on Sunday when the police resorted to baton charge at a free flour distribution point. Earlier in Jatoi and Chowk Sarwar Shaheed areas, two women died at the flour distribution points in the last week.

The flour distribution points have become a place of humiliation for the recipients, if the views of the visitors to these points and police actions are taken into consideration.

The police said they resorted to baton charge to discipline the crowd. Several women at the centre, however, alleged that the police maltreated them when they protested against the “unfair” distribution of flour bags by the administration. Angered at the police action, the women blocked the national highway for hours. Later, people looted a truckload of flour bags and left the place.

Women demanded that caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Raza Naqvi visit the district to see the mismanagement. They said though the truckloads kept on arriving at the centre, officials and the police kept the people waiting for hours.

As the road blockade lingered, the deputy commissioner, whose transfer orders were stopped on Sunday, also arrived at the scene and got the traffic resumed. Earlier, on Friday when a woman died from jostling during the flour distribution in Jatoi, the chief minister ordered the transfer of both the DC and the district police officer (DPO). While the DPO was ordered to report to the Central Police Office in Lahore, the DC was told to continue working. On Sunday, SP Tanvir Ahmad Malik was given the charge of the DPO.

The district administration was on high alert in the five tehsils of Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu districts after it was in the air that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Mr Naqvi would visit Multan and Muzaffargarh. Helipads were also built in the fives tehsils and security arrangements were strict.

DPO Malik visited various flour points and said that the police personnel are facilitating the smooth distribution of free flour. He appealed to the people to cooperate with the administration by showing good discipline.

Moreover, Dera Ghazi Khan Commissioner Dr Nasir Mahmood Bashir paid a surprise visit to free flour distribution points at Post-Graduate College, Ahmad Marque, Faisal Stadium and Government High School, Khurshidabad.

He said a committee has been formed to investigate the death of the elderly woman who died due to jostling in Jatoi. He said that all possible steps are being taken to provide convenience to deserving people.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023

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