At least two women were killed and eight others injured in a stampede in the city's Katpatty road area during distribution of Zakat items yesterday.
The deceased were identified as Firoja Begum, 50, wife of Fazle Ali of Sadar upazila and Nupur Begum, 35, wife of Mohon Mia of Rasulpur of the city.
Khansons group, which has textile and cement factories in Barisal, arranged the distribution at its Barisal office on Katpatty road.
On information, police rushed to the spot and detained eight staff and officials of the company for interrogation relating to the incident and also seized some Zakat goods.
The arrestees are Abu Saleh, manager finance, Shahnewaj Khan, warehouse in-charge, Moajjem Hossain, security in-charge, Rahat Khan, sales officer, Abdul Halim, messenger, two supporting staff Siraj and Liton and driver Abdul Qaium.
Anowara Begum, a relative of the deceased Firoja Begum, said Khansons Group began distributing the Zakat items including sari, lungi and cash at their office at around 9:30am.
Huge crowd assembled there for Zakat and the authorities did not give any coupon to maintain the distribution. Many of the Zakat goods seekers fell sick due to the heavy pressure of the mob, said Bilkis, a relative of Nupur.
The situation worsened when the authorities started distributing cash and some ten people were trampled at that time, said the witnesses.
The injured were taken to the Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Hospital where doctors declared Firoza and Nupur dead.
The rest of the injured are Bakul Begum, 48, Kohinur Begum, 59, Rokhsana Begum, 40, Jahima Sultana, 49, Rashida Begum, 35 and one unidentified female aged about 50. Her condition was critical.
Expressing condolence for the dead and the injured, Md Abdur Rob Shahin, executive director of Khansons group's Barisal office, said it was a regular annual programme of the company. This year the situation went out of control as the number of people seeking the goods was beyond expectation, he said.
The distribution of Zakat goods was stopped after the incident.
Meanwhile, agitating people tried to cordon off Barisal Kotwali Police Station, around 30 feet from the company's office, protesting the incident.
The situation calmed down at around 12:45pm after police assured all of proper investigation and punishment for the culprits, witnesses said.
Shoyeb Ahmed, deputy commissioner of Barisal Metropolitan Police, said the authorities of the company did not inform police about the huge gathering.
Md Shahidul Alam, deputy commissioner of Barisal, gave Tk 10,000 to the families of each of the deceased.