Runaway inflation, ill-planned handout distribution blamed for stampede

Published April 1, 2023
Victims’ slippers litter the floor at the site of the deadly stampede, which was also submerged by water after a pipeline burst under the weight of people standing over it inside a dyeing factory near Naurus intersection in SITE. (Right) Victims’ relatives console each other at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Friday. —PPI / Reuters / Online
Victims’ slippers litter the floor at the site of the deadly stampede, which was also submerged by water after a pipeline burst under the weight of people standing over it inside a dyeing factory near Naurus intersection in SITE. (Right) Victims’ relatives console each other at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Friday. —PPI / Reuters / Online

KARACHI: Heart-wrenching scenes were witnessed at the mortuary of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Friday, where the bodies of those who had been killed in the stampede in a SITE factory were lying over stretchers and their relatives were mourning their death.

The stampede occurred when a large number of inflation-hit people gathered at a factory to collect zakat and food.

At the mortuary, a foul and sickening smell of death was overpowering. The people were putting the bodies of their loved ones in ambulances and taking them home for funerals.

Struck by grief, some families and relatives were so lost that carrying the corpses of their loved ones had become visibly difficult for them.

In a sad and desperate voice, the brother-in-law of Mafiha Bibi, who hailed from Tando Allahyar, described how she had been crushed during the stampede.

Murad announces Rs0.5m each compensation; Sharjeel asks NGOs to inform officials before relief distribution

Perspiring profusely due to nervousness, he said that it was because of skyrocketing inflation in the country that she had gone there to collect free flour.

Two sons of a woman, who was also killed in the stampede, were wailing and crying.

The younger son of Hafiza Begum, who lived in Orangi Town, was so grieved that he could not stop crying.

Muhammad Yousuf, her elder son, said that they had no idea when and why their mother had gone to that factory.

They just received a call that their mother had been killed. He said she had not been hurt by the baton charge that also took place inside the factory.

‘This is not charity, but a show-off’

Naseem Bibi, who had come from Multan to meet her brother in Karachi, was also crushed during the mayhem.

Her brother said he blamed the owner of the company distributing handouts for this incident.

“If they really wanted to do charity, they should have made a proper method for the distribution of flour. This is not a charity but rather a show-off. They were trying to impress others by gathering a huge crowd of people,” he said.

Asma Ahmed, 30, told AFP that her grandmother and niece were among the dead.

“We come every year to the factory for zakat,” she said. “However, they started beating the women with clubs and pushing them. There was chaos everywhere. Why did they call us if they couldn’t manage it,” she asked.

Compensation announced

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday night announced Rs500,000 compensation for legal heirs of each deceased of the SITE stampede.

He also announced Rs100,000 for each injured person.

The CM directed the chief secretary to get details about the deceased and injured immediately for distribution of compensation among them.

Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that the factory management did not inform police or district administration about distribution of charity.

He appealed to philanthropists and non-government organisations to intimate the district administration and police while arranging such activities so that adequate security can be provided.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2023

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