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    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    Poverty,joblessness, illiteracy behind Ahmedpur East tragedy

    MULTAN: A 56 year old Jannat bibi said,"I have lost my entire assets. My life has ended and I am so helpless after losing my husband,brother,nephew,and a cousin .She adds three more family members, including my brother; nephew and cousin are still missing.
    Jannat Bibi a dweller of Basti Nazirabad, a suburb of Ahmedpur east spread over public land. A large numbers of people from the Basti rushed to the spot near Moza Ramzan Joiya where a speeding oil tanker, carrying 40, 000 liters fuel and travelling from Karachi to Lahore on main highway, overturned.
    “We were engaged our work after Fajr prayer when announcement was made from mosque at 0600 am that an oil tanker turned turtle and oil is leaking from it. The announcement instigates people rush to the spot,” Jannat Bibi said.
    Moza Ramzan Joyia is situated in Tehsil Ahmedpur East also known as Dera Nawab Sahib in the middle of Moza Gulan Larr, Basti Nazirabad, nomads’ huts’ and Ahamedpur East. The Moza Gulan Larr is located near Mehrabwala where burial of majority of the burn victims had taken place.
    The chronology of Moza Ramzan Joyia reveals that Ramzan Joyia was a resident in Sindh and he brought number of people from interior Sindh in Ahamedpur East to cultivate agriculture lands in the Bahawalpur State during the English Rule. The English rulers named the Moza in his name.
    There is no concept of primary education in Moza Ramzan Joyia and adjacent villages. The nearest primary school is located in Ahamedpur East, about 5-6 miles away.
    The area faces acute shortage of job opportunities due to lack of industrialisation. Most of the people work as labourer on daily wages. Rs500-600 is the daily gross per capita income in the area, indicating poverty.
    Statistics available with the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics show that overall literacy ratio is not more than 35per cent in Moza Ramzan Joyia. The literacy rate among female is lowest in the area, which stands around 23 per cent.
    Statistics reveals the 80.95pc population in Bahawalpur district lives in rural areas, including Moza Ramzan Joyia.
    The 1998 census reveals that Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts have literacy ratio of 36pc and 33.4pc, resepctivelty.
    Civil society activists say the gory incident took place mainly because of poverty, illiteracy and lack of awareness among the residents in the remote villages.
    Senior lawyer and Saraiki nationalist Akbar Ansari living in Ahamedpur East says first all the residents of nomad huts rushed to Moza Ramzan Joyia. Later the residents of Basti Nazirabad reached the spot, carrying canes and pots in their hands to collect oil being leaked from the tanker. Majority of the victims are men.
    “An administrator of a madrassah located near Moza Ramzan Joyia had dispatched his students to collect the fuel,” he said.
    Akbar Ansari says poverty and lack of awareness are the major causes behind the gory incident. The area has been facing economic decline since long due to lack of job opportunities. He said there are some schools in the tehsil in public sector but they lack quality education.
    Ahamedpur East is famous for its manpower mostly engaged in labour.
    Majority of people in Ahamedpur East and adjacent areas are engaged in labour and they do not usually send their children to schools. He said this is the only tehsil in the province from where two buses daily leave for Karachi carrying labourers.
    The most developed Saddiq Garh palace is located two kilometers away from Ahamedpur East, but the Nawab of Bahawalpur enjoys around eight months in London showing a lack of interest in the development of the area.
    Ahamedpur Sharqia local government representatives say the poverty graph is high in the tehsil as compared to rest of the district. People from surrounding areas had come to collect fuel spontaneously due to high rate of poverty and illiteracy, they added.
    Eyewitnesses say that the Motorway Police had reached the spot and tried to disperse people, keeping them away from leaked oil tanker, but people did not care about it and continued to collect fuel.
    Police rushed to the scene and tried to keep people away from the tanker but the residents continued filling their containers with fuel, Motorway Police Spokesman Imran Shah said.
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    Item Reviewed: Poverty,joblessness, illiteracy behind Ahmedpur East tragedy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar