Free wheat flour: protests erupt in K-P

PESHAWAR: Protests and brawls for the supply of free government wheat flour on Tuesday were witnessed at various places in Peshawar as the city’s police expressed their helplessness to control the situation and asked the provincial government to avail the services of the Frontier Constabulary for this purpose.

Protests broke out in different parts of the city including Ashraf Road, Khyber Colony, Yousufabad, Ittehad Colony, Zaryab Colony, Faqirabad, Ring Road, and Badhber.

Protesters blocked Kohat Road over not receiving the free flour, resulting in a massive traffic gridlock in the area.

In Hayatabad, protesters blocked Masjid-e-Zarghoni Road over the same issue.

Protesters also blocked a road in Zaryab Colony.

The protesters complained that they had to wait in long queues for the entire day and still return home empty-handed.

They claimed that flour was being distributed on the basis of nepotism, with political affiliation taken into account.

Complaints of not receiving the free government flour are increasing with each passing day.

The city’s police have advised the provincial government to use the FC to keep the law and order situation under control during the process of free flour distribution.

Police officials said they had hardly come up with the manpower for the ongoing census in the city.

Apart from that, they also have to deploy police personnel for the security of bazaars and mosques during the holy month of Ramazan.

They said across the province, its southern districts in particular, a large number of women gather at the distribution points to collect free flour, making it difficult for the police to manage the situation.

The police officials said the provincial government could identify the distribution points where the problems were being faced and deploy FC personnel there as an additional force.

The provincial government would consult with the Centre to make the final decision on the deployment of the FC personnel.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while recently chairing a review meeting in Islamabad, said free flour would be provided to the underprivileged people of Punjab in the first phase under the special Ramazan package.

Later it was decided to include the deserving people of Islamabad in the scheme.

Similarly, other provincial governments also announced plans to distribute free flour bags.

However, unorganised distributions in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa resulted in stampedes.

A man was killed in Charsadda, and several others were injured in Swabi and Kohat. Another man in Bannu died after the boundary wall of a flour mill collapsed ahead of the distribution process.

In the Hasilpur tehsil of southern Punjab, at least five women were injured in a stampede at a free flour distribution point.

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