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February 11, 2013

Police baton charge protesting doctors

February 11, 2013


Baton-wielding policemen launched a furious crackdown on young doctors on the Jail Road on Sunday, leaving many injured, including PPP MPA Shaukat Basra.
The police arrested about 20 doctors after uprooting them from the camp over charges of inciting riot and violence.
The doctors’ hunger strike turned into a battle with police as policemen baton-charged the young doctors who pelted them with stones. Scores were injured in clashes between the stone-throwing doctors and police who used kicks, fists, truncheons and stones. The policemen uprooted young doctors’ camp and manhandled them. The violence ensued after an altercation between both the parties. The police also showed its ‘hospitality’ with PPP’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Basra by giving him a good thrashing.
Basra had come to the Services Hospital to inquire after his father at the hospital. He said he approached police officers in an attempt to pacify the fast worsening situation when an infuriated policeman gave him the taste of his baton. Shaukat went berserk at the sudden assault and climbed up the police van, meant for transporting the arrested doctors to police stations and attempted to snatch the vehicle’s key.
SP Model Town Malik Awais also exchanged harsh words with Basra at the instigation of police bosses. Basra asked the Model Town SP to release all the detained doctors but he paid no heed to his demand and hurled a volley of abuses at him.
Shaukat called policemen names, saying that he would register a case against Shahbaz Sharif for the terrorism he had faced. Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the civil society were also manhandled who visited the doctors’ camp to express their solidarity with them.
The furious attack by the police came as the doctors had announced that they would disrupt the inauguration ceremony of the Metro Bus Service on Sunday unless the Punjab government fulfilled their demands.
It is pertinent to mention

here that doctors in other countries such as India have held strikes for their rights and demands but there never was a case where they were physically assaulted by law enforcement agencies. This preemptive strike by the police is an example of their violence prone attitude, an attitude frequently complained against by the citizens. Hundreds of demonstrators, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and civil society activists gathered at the camp after an early morning police raid on doctors who had been staging the protest sit-in for the last seven days. Police forced demonstrators into the premises of nearby hospitals while other protesters shouted angrily and offered resistance. The tough measures taken by the police fomented anger among the doctors who had to offer resistance by pelting them with stones. The action taken by the Lahore police was believed to fuel more protests. A police officer, requesting anonymity, said that the repression would be helpful in blunting the protest movement by scaring away many of the protesters who could turn out in thousands for demonstration. This charged episode blocked traffic 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 females were also wounded by police baton charge.
SP Model Town said around 20 protestors had been arrested by the police and were put in the lockups of various police stations. Some of policemen and protesters got minor injuries during the scuffle, he added.
A doctor said violent clashes erupted, as policemen attempted to break into their camps and baton-charged protesters who retaliated with stones. The demonstrations condemned police aggression against them as they were beaten up before being dragged to police vehicles.
Meanwhile, the 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.
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.




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