Multan                    -                     An old woman was killed while 20 others were injured, some of them seriously, when a stampede broke out at an Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme fund distribution centre here at Qasimpur Colony on Friday.

The deceased was identified as Naziraan Bibi, 70, and her body was shifted to city morgue.

Commissioner Multan division Shanul Haq, however, claimed that the woman did not die due to stampede. “No stampede took place there. She was an old lady and apparently she died of a heart attack. The exact cause of the death will be ascertained after autopsy,” he told media.

Eyewitnesses said that hundreds of women were gathered at the gate of the centre which was set up at Government M.A. Jinnah School. “All of them were trying to get through the gate. This situation led to a stampede and the old woman lost her life,” said one Amjad Ali, who was present at the spot, while talking to The Nation.

The people gathered at different fund distribution centers openly violated the policy of social distancing and enforcement of Section 144. Police failed to maintain law and order at the centre where stampede broke out. People were seen pushing one another.

The divisional administration claimed that the women had started gathering outside the school two hours ahead of the scheduled time. “The time starts at 9:00 am and lasts till 4:00 pm, but women gathered at 7:00 am. The old lady died because she suffered a heart attack due to her old age and weakness, and not any stampede caused her death,” the commissioner further explained.

Meanwhile, Focal Person for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme Multan Rana Ikhlaq told media that a total of 110866 families would benefit from the programme in Multan district.

He disclosed that as many as 5,777 families received cash worth over Rs70 million on the first day of cash distribution.

He added that 27,658 families of tehsil Multan city, 37,475 of Saddar, 24,797 of Shujabad and 20,936 of Jalalpur Pirwala would get financial support under the programme.

Giving details of the centers, he said that 19 Ehsaas Kifalat Centers had been made functional across the district. “Two more centers: one each in Qadirpur Rawan and Laar, will become functional till April 15,” he added.

He further disclosed that currently 100 counters had been set up to pay cash to the people and the number of these counters would be increased to 100 soon.