Several lawyers held for attacking Lahore hospital - GulfToday

Several lawyers held for attacking Lahore hospital


Police officers stand guard for security measures at the premises of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore on Thursday. Reuters

Pakistan on Thursday levelled “treason” charges against 250 lawyers who were part of a mob that stormed a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore the previous day, kicking and punching doctors and staff and trashing equipment and property, police said.

Under Pakistani laws, assaults on government buildings and other property can carry the charge of treason.

Such cases are then handled by anti-terrorism courts, which were primarily set up by to try suspects linked to acts of terrorism.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the charged 250 lawyers are in custody.

“We have arrested some lawyers and no one linked to the attack on the hospital will be spared,” said Zulfikar Hameed, the city’s police chief.

Two FIRs [first information reports] have been registered against more than 250 lawyers who attached the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) of Lahore, tortured doctors and attendants, and damaged hospital property and police vehicles.

Meanwhile, doctors and lawyers in different cities observed separate strikes, holding each other responsible for Wednesday’s violence.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid visited the PIC on Thursday and declared that those who committed violation of law would be severely punished.

She said what the lawyers did was not done even in wars when the hospitals were spared.

A number of lawyers have been arrested in Lahore while efforts are afoot to apprehend several others for ransacking the PIC, beating doctors and damaging its equipment.

On Wednesday, lawyers had staged a violent protest at the PIC apparently on a mission to avenge a group of lawyers, who had been beaten up at the PIC a few weeks ago, soon after some video clips went viral on the social media showing some doctors making fun of the lawyers while recalling the incident.

The outraged attackers, mostly young faces dressed in black suits and sporting neckties, spared no one present on hospital premises, where several serious cardiac patients are under treatment at any given time.

The situation worsened when a mob stormed into the emergency department, seemingly in search of some doctors.

In view of the approaching danger, the doctors fled the scene.

As the condition of some critical patients deteriorated in the absence of doctors, three PIC patients, including a girl and an elderly woman, passed away.

One FIR registered on the complaint of the PIC at the Shadman police station of Lahore named the general secretary of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) Malik Maqsood Khokhar, vice president of the LBA Ijaz Basra and LBA presidential hopeful Rana Intizar among those who were leading the lawyers, provoking them and giving them the instructions that anyone including doctors and medical staff who get in the way should be unable to get away safely.

The FIR was registered on the complaint of Saqib Shafi Sheikh on behalf of the PIC under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 322 (manslaughter), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging their duty),186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions), 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with an intent to outrage her modesty), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 337-H (2) (punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act) and 395 (punishment for dacoity) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

According to the complainant, he was at his office when he was informed him that 200-250 male and female lawyers were approaching the PIC.

After receiving the information, he told doctors at the hospital about it, who arrived at the emergency ward of PIC to alert security about the approaching lawyers.

Approximately half an hour later, 200-250 lawyers, some of whom were carrying weapons and sticks, forcefully entered the PIC by pushing the large contingent of police posted at the emergency ward gate, which they also broke.

Tariq Butt / Agencies

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