LAHORE: Baton-wielding cops cracked down on young doctors on Ghausul Azam Road on Sunday, leaving many injured, including the PPP MPA Shaukat Basra.
The police arrested around 20 doctors on the charge of inciting a riot and violence after uprooting their camp.The doctors’ hunger strike turned into a battle, as the police baton-charged young doctors who retaliated by pelting stones at them.
The furious attack by the police came as the doctors announced that they would disrupt the inaugural ceremony of the Metro Bus Service on Sunday unless the Punjab government fulfilled their demands.
Violence ensued after an altercation between the police and young doctors. The police also beat up the PPP Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Basra.
Basra had visited the Services Hospital to inquire after his father. Basra said he approached the police officers in an attempt to pacify the fast worsening situation when an infuriated cop hit him with a baton. Basra lost his temper at the sudden attack and climbed up the police van, meant for transporting the arrested doctors to police stations, and tried to snatch the vehicle’s keys.
SP Model Town Malik Awais also exchanged harsh words with the MPA. Basra asked the SP to release all the detained doctors but he paid no heed and allegedly hurled a volley of abuses at him. The MPA said he would register a case against Shahbaz Sharif for the terrorism he had faced.
Activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the civil society were also manhandled when they visited the doctors’ camp to express solidarity with them.
It is pertinent to mention here that doctors in other countries like India have held strikes for their rights and demands, but there was not even a single case of physical assault on them by the law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of demonstrators, including PTI and civil society activists, gathered at the camp after an early morning police raid on doctors who have been staging the sit-in for the last seven days.
The police forced the demonstrators to take shelter on the premises of nearby hospitals, while other protesters shouted angrily and offered resistance.
Requesting anonymity, a police officer said harsh measures would help them scare away the protesters who could turn out in thousands for the demonstration.
Traffic remained blocked on roads around the Services Hospital, choking Shadman Chowk, Jail Road Underpass and consequently the Chamber of Commerce Road. The traffic, however, resumed after three hours. A number of women were also wounded by the police baton charge.
SP Model Town said around 20 protestors had been arrested. Some of policemen and protesters got minor injuries during the scuffle, he added.A doctor said violent clashes erupted, as the police broke into their camp and baton-charged the protesters.
Meanwhile, DIG Operations Lahore and SP Model Town vowed to take action against the doctors. However, no case was registered till the filing of this report in the evening. Among the arrested doctors were Dr Afzal, Dr Shahjahan, Dr Saifur Rehman, Dr Rai Ahmad, Dr Masood, Dr Kamran, Dr Nazam Ali and Dr Usman Dar.