I have to stand in this crowd wearing a burqa all day, I have to take flour for four children and an old mother, and today is the fourth day, I go back home empty-handed. ‘
These are the words of Sameera (pseudonym) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, who said that the recent inflation has broken the back and the house is often hungry.
Thousands of such women wait all day at various points in the province to get free flour this Ramadan. With ID cards in their hands, these women hope that maybe they will get a bag of flour for free today.
These women stand in a corner in the crowd of men because while the dough is being distributed, it often comes to fistfights.
There are also incidents of theft of flour at free flour distribution points. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cities of Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Orakzai, people forcibly removed bags from trucks loaded with flour.
In Peshawar’s Hazar Khawani area, people were so angry that they climbed onto a truck carrying a bag of flour.
There were also reports of deaths and injuries of people standing to get flour from other provinces of Pakistan. In many places, women and elderly people have been badly affected by the stampede and the collapse of walls.
In this article, we have tried to know the problems faced by some of the citizens visiting flour centers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“I have been coming here for four days, but till now I have not got any flour”
In Peshawar, flour points have been established at Hayatabad Sports Complex, Hazar Khawani, Ashraf Road and other places, but due to lack of proper distribution system of this flour, apart from mismanagement, the self-respect of a large number of people has been hurt. has been
A large number of people gathered at a place on Ashraf Road in Peshawar. These people had reached here after Suhore, they included a large number of men as well as women. A man was collecting identity cards from people and everyone rushed over him as if to trample him.
Every man and woman tried to take the identity card from him, but the flour dealer used to see the identity card, return it to someone and take it from someone.
Among these women was Sameera, who stood aside in frustration as her identity card was not taken. Samira told the BBC that she has been coming here for four days but has not received any flour.
She says, “Tell me, I get eight to ten thousand rupees for working at home, my four children are studying and my old mother is ill, so how can I pay the electricity and gas bills?” I have not been able to pay the house rent for three months, this month the landlord threatened to give an eviction notice, so getting free flour here is very important for the life of my children so that at least the children have bread. I will be able to.’
“When I go out wearing a burqa, people say, ‘Look, she is going out of the house. Sometimes, when I spread my hands in front of someone, they all say, ‘Why is she not doing anything?’ If I work, then people talk. Now I am forced to wait here all day in the line for free flour.
An elderly woman present there said that she came with her children after taking a leave from where she works, but did not find any flour.
He said that the price of flour available in the market has also been increased under the guise of free flour, where a bag of 20 kg flour is being sold for Rs 2800 to Rs 3000.
‘Drive a rickshaw or wait in queues for flour’
Gul Zaman is a rickshaw driver. They have eight children and no bread in the house. He said that the situation is very difficult. On Ashraf Road, they were like thousands of people waiting to get flour today.
He said that ‘due to lack of flour, we are forced to eat broken rice at home. I have been coming here for five days so that we may get flour today.’
“When I leave the house in the morning, my wife and children say that I must bring flour, I can’t buy expensive flour from the market, this free flour is available, but I can’t find it either.”
He explains that ‘I tell my wife, you ask for flour, should I drive a rickshaw or wait in queues for flour, if I don’t drive a rickshaw, there is no labor and if I drive a rickshaw, I don’t get flour.’
He alleged that the flour dealers give the flour to their acquaintances or the mills themselves mismanage it, due to which the poor do not get the flour.
He suggested that if the government makes flour cheaper, everyone will be able to buy it and will not have to bear this humiliation.
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This dough is only for families registered in the Benazir Income Support Program.
In the Hayatabad Sports Complex of Peshawar, we also met a person who had received three bags of flour. He said that he had received a message on his mobile phone asking him to come on such and such date to get the flour, so he got the flour today.
On the other hand, the flour dealers say that people are hasty, often forceful, come again and again to get flour, so the situation worsens.
They say that if everyone stands in order and waits for their turn, everyone can get flour.
A flour dealer said that as many ID cards are given to them, they give as many bags of flour as possible to all of them.
Regarding this, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Minister of Food Fazl Elahi told BBC that mainly this flour is only for families registered in Benazir Income Support Program but a large number of people have come, due to which the problems have increased. have gone
He said that despite this, free flour has been provided to about 12 lakh families so far and the situation will improve in the next few days.
He said that the large number of people standing in the queues are people who are not in the Benazir Income Support Program, so now the number of centers providing flour is increasing and efforts are being made to provide flour to all the needy people. can go.
He said that to get free flour, it is necessary to receive a message on the mobile phone, but people do not send the message and come without it.
In response to the question that many women and elderly people standing in the queues do not even know the mobile phone and BISP number, how will they know who to message, to which he apologized for not doing anything in this regard. can