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- Saturday, March 15, 2014 - From Print Edition




Police baton-charged and thrashed protesting nurses, leaving around four of them severely injured on The Mall near the Punjab Assembly on Friday.


Around nine of the protesting ladies were also arrested.


There were rumours that one of the injured, who was pregnant, died which caused panic among other nurses. After the incident, nurses at Ganga Ram Hospital, Mayo Hospital and many other hospitals boycotted their duties. Many of them from nearby Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Services Hospital and Mayo Hospital later also joined their protesting fellows. There were also rumours that the torture of the nurse led to miscarriage.


The Nurses moved from Cooper Road, where they had been protesting for the last couple of days, to The Mall on Friday afternoon and held a strong protest sit-in there. This caused great traffic mess on many adjacent roads. The police baton charged the protesting nurses to disperse them which resulted in the sad incident. Later, a large number of nurses from other hospitals joined the sit-in.


For the last five days, these nurses boycotting their duties have been protesting against the Punjab government, demanding regularization of their services.


Director General (DG) Health Punjab Dr Zahid Pervez said the injured nurse, Aasia of Lahore General Hospital (LGH), was admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital along with some other nurses and her condition was stable. He said the news of the miscarriage were untrue and termed the reports about her death mere rumours.


It is pertinent to mention that the government has been claiming that the services of the nurses working on ad-hoc basis could only be regularized once they cleared the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) examination.


Meanwhile, addressing an emergent press conference, Advisor to the CM Punjab on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq said the chief minister had ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident, adding that, on recommendations of the inquiry, a strict action would be taken against those responsible. He said there were conflicting reports as to what actually led to start of the sad incident, claiming it had already been decided at higher level that no action would be taken against the protesting nurses. He said judicial inquiry would determine as to how it all started. Media footage would also be used in this regard, he added.


Khawaja Salman Rafiq claimed that almost 90 percent issues of the nurses had already been solved while the government was also extending contracts of the nurses working on ad-hoc basis. To a question, he said as per service rules, the services of the employees working on ad-hoc basis could not be regularized without PPSC. He said the Health Department had sent a requisition to the PPSC for the appointment of 1450 nurses, adding the protesting nurses could also apply for the same as they would be awarded extra marks of their experience.


Several associations of doctors and paramedic staff and political parties strongly condemned the police torture of the nurses and termed the same inefficiency of the Punjab government.


In a press release issued here, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) condemned the use of violence by Lahore police against protesting nurses, terming the same “unacceptable”. The PMA members expressed strong views on the police brutalities at an emergency meeting of PMA Lahore chaired by its President Dr Muhammad Tanveer Anwar. The nurses continued their protest on The Mall at Faisal Chowk till filing of this report.