At least 11 people killed in stampede while collecting free flour in Pakistan’s Punjab province

At least 11 people, including women, have died while trying to get free flour from government distribution outlets in Pakistan’s Punjab province in recent days, authorities said.

The deaths were reported after several people flocked to the government distribution points after the cash-strapped Pakistani government introduced a free flour scheme for the poor, especially in Punjab province, to beat the skyrocketing inflation.

The scheme aims to counter the rising popularity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan.

Two elderly women and a man died on Tuesday, while 60 others suffered injuries in stampedes at free flour centres in four districts — Sahiwal, Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh and Okara — of south Punjab. The other districts where deaths were reported are Fasailabad, Jehanian and Multan. Police have been blamed for causing mayhem at the centres by manhandling and baton-charging the citizens waiting in long queues to get free flour.

Security forces also resorted to a heavy-handed approach following the looting of free flour trucks in the Muzaffarghar and Rahim Yar Khan cities.

Former prime minister Khan has condemned the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government for its mismanagement at the free flour centres and held Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab caretaker chief minister Naqvi responsible for the deaths of innocent people.

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