Larkana police arrested Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) official and their agents as they were charged for demanding bribes from grantees to get their installment.
The brainchild of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in its last tenure, BISP was initiated to provide relief to the needy and poor women across the country.
In Larkana, there are around 60,000 beneficiaries, who have to grease the palm of the BISP agents to get their share.
Scores of women flocked to the centre and the agents there threatened them to pay the bribe first. As women refused, they got pushed and manhandled.
The chaotic situation sparked a stampede.
This centre is being run by a contractor authorised by a private bank to disburse the monthly installments to women. Reportedly, the contractor had deployed his men to bargain with the recipients to pay the bribe. At the BISP centre in the outskirts of Larkana at Wagan Road, two women, Kamalan and Ayesha, fainted as they got injured in the stampede while the money was being distributed on Friday.
Larkana DIG Khadim Rind reached the centre, where women briefed him about the humiliation and atrocities they faced at the hands of the contractor and his men.
DIG ordered the police to arrest the agents, contractor and the regional director of BISP, Abida Pathan. The police arrested contractor Ayaz Janwri, his cousin, Rafay Janwri, Mohammad Bux Jalbani, Deeadar Sial, Abdul Ghaffar Sial, Mansoor Sial, Azhar Sial, Allah Dad Jalbani and Arif Jalbani.
The regional director was absconding and according to officials, Pathan is enjoying the support of influential politicians of Sukkur and Shikarpur and, therefore, name of Mai Pathani was written instead of Abida Pathan in the FIR to save her skin. Later, her name was included in the FIR on the pressure of high police officers. A case against the arrested 10 persons has been registered at taluka Police Station Larkana on behalf of the state and on the complaint of ASI Imam Din Chawro.
Head constable at taluka police station Abdul Rehman Shaikh told The Express Tribune that all the arrested accused were produced in the court on Saturday and the court after hearing the case, granted three-day police remand of the accused. He further said the two accused, Ayaz Janwri and his cousin Rafay Janwri, were bailed out. Officials claimed that Pathan has been arrested and kept at women police station in Larkana, but the head constable Shaikh said she is yet to be arrested. The BISP was supposed to establish four centres throughout district Larkana, to facilitate the beneficiaries but despite the lapse of more than six years, no centre has been established. On the other hand, the BISP had authorised a private bank to disburse the amount to the beneficiaries and the bank granted the contract to contractor Ayaz Janwri, who established a centre in a house situated at Wagan Road. Sources further claimed that out of 60,000 beneficiaries, hundreds of women have passed away but the authorities never updated the record.
Neither regional director BISP Abida Pathan nor the DIGP Larkana Khadim Rind were available for their comments.