Violence erupts as citizens in Shangla’s Bisham protest against ‘unjust’ distribution of flour

Published March 30, 2023
This image shows protesters blocking the Karakoram Highway in Maira.— Photo provided by author
This image shows protesters blocking the Karakoram Highway in Maira.— Photo provided by author
This image shows protesters gathered in Dandai after clashing with police. — Photo provided by author
This image shows protesters gathered in Dandai after clashing with police. — Photo provided by author

Violence erupted in Shangla district’s Bisham tehsil in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday as citizens protested against the “unjust” distribution of free flour.

Bisham Assistant Commissioner (AC) Muhammad Jawad Asif said that the residents of Maira area of Bisham tehsil had blocked the Karakoram Highway while staging the protest, adding that police had been deployed in the area to deal with any untoward situation.

He said that at one point, the protesters attempted to loot trucks carrying free flour that were unable to proceed further due to the demonstration. The AC said the police party tried to stop the protesters which resulted in them pelting officials with stones.

As a result, a police constable was injured and a police vehicle was damaged. He said that three protesters were also injured after officials baton-charged them, adding that some were also arrested.

Asif further said that after clashing with police on the highway, the protesters followed officials to the police station in Dandai. He said that the protesters then proceeded to throw stones at the police station in the area but fled after officials resorted to aerial firing.

He said that the protesters blocked the highway in Dandai for four hours during which the local administration tried to negotiate with them. He said that the administration addressed their concerns regarding the flour distribution points, adding that the protesters had also demanded the transfer of the area station house officer (SHO).

He said the police had lodged a first information report (FIR) against the protesters who attacked the police van and the police station, and injured officials.

Meanwhile, Shah Zenat, the chairman of the Maria village council who was leading the protest, said that the protesters were demonstrating against the “unjust” distribution of flour. He alleged that police baton-charged the protesters which left several injured.

The government has launched the flour distribution programme to reach millions of families in need during Ramazan.

On Monday, people waiting for free flour looted flour trucks in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan on Monday while residents of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Khyber and Abbottabad took to streets to protest unavailability of the commodity in their districts.

In Punjab, two people died while 56 people, including 45 women, were injured in stampedes at free flour centres on Tuesday.


Additional input from Reuters

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