MUZAFFARGARH: People block Jatoi-Alipur road against unfair distribution of flour. — Dawn
MUZAFFARGARH: People block Jatoi-Alipur road against unfair distribution of flour. — Dawn

VEHARI/MUZAFFARGARH: An old man died and eight other people were injured at the free flour distribution centres in Vehari and Muzaffargarh on Thursday.

The old man, Dur Muhammad, a resident of town Karampur of tehsil Mailsi, had come to the Vehari Stadium on the Multan Road to get free flour from the distribution centre. He was standing in the long queue when he suddenly collapsed and fainted due to the long wait.

According to some eyewitnesses the old man had been standing in the queue since morning but he could not get the flour bag until the afternoon. He died before getting any first aid. The Rescue 1122 found a computerised national identity card (CNIC) in Dur Muhammad’s pocket and sent his body to his native town of Karampur.

It’s pertinent to mention that it’s Ramazan and people keep fast while they come to collect wheat flour, the staple food. Dur Muhammad had come to Vehari from Karampur as there was no free wheat flour distribution point in his town and all the poor people from there would come to Vehari to get free flour.

Some people standing at the Vehari Stadium said that two women had fallen unconscious at the centre due to long wait in queue two days back. Some others complained that the officials were providing free flour to their favourite people on a priority basis. They demanded Deputy Commissioner Asif Husain Shah to look into the matter and take action against officials involved in mismanagement.

In Muzaffargarh, eight people were injured in the disorder and stampede at the flour distribution centres in the Shah Jamal area while a stampede also occurred at Khangarh.

According to reports, hundreds of people rushed to flour points, pushing and pulling each other, causing a stampede at the Shah Jamal centre. As a result, eight people, including a woman, fell down and received injuries. The rescue officials provided first aid to four people on the spot and shifted as many to the district headquarters (DHQ) hospital in critical condition. The doctors sent the four injured to the Nishtar Hospital, Multan.

Later, the people blocked the Jatoi-Alipur road and chanted slogans against unfair distribution of flour by the administration.

Deputy Commissioner Salman Khan Lodhi reached the spot and started flour distribution. Speaking to the media, he said more than 0.8m flour bags had been distributed and most of the people who had come to distribution points had received flour bags. He said headmasters of the public schools had been appointed at flour points while the number of counters at 32 free flour points had been increased to 667 for the convenience of the people across the district.

The DC said provision of maximum convenience to the citizens was the first priority of the administration. The free flour points would remain open on Friday throughout the district.

Later, the DC also paid a surprise visit to the District Headquarters Hospital, inspected wards and reviewed the treatment facilities provided to the patients.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2023

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