Two police first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against more than 250 lawyers who attacked Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), allegedly tortured doctors and attendants, and damaged hospital property and police vehicles.
According to a police document, 52 lawyers were arrested in connection with Wednesday’s incident.
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 attackers, mostly young faces 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 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, died.
After hours of continued violence, police arrested dozens of lawyers and unblocked the road.
The Punjab government also summoned extra Rangers personnel to maintain law and order.
The FIR registered on Wednesday on the complaint of the PIC at the Shadman police station named Lahore Bar Association (LBA) general secretary Malik Maqsood Khokhar, LBA vice-president Ijaz Basra, and LBA presidential hopeful Rana Intizar among those who were leading the lawyers, provoking them and giving them the instructions to target anyone, including doctors and medical staff, who got in their way.
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.
According to the complainant, around noon on Wednesday, he was at his office when the chauki (watchman) in charge informed him via the telephone operator that 200-250 male and female lawyers were approaching the PIC.
After receiving the information, he told doctors (at the hospital), who arrived at the emergency ward of the 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 after pushing past the large contingent of police posted at the emergency ward gate, which they also broke.
As per the FIR, the lawyers divided into various groups, entered the various PIC departments, including the intensive care unit, operation theatre and radiology department, where they allegedly tortured the security guards, medical staff and doctors present in the vicinity.
They also broke valuable hospital equipment and spread fear among the patients at the hospital and their families.
As a result of the destruction they caused at the hospital, the treatment of patients was suspended, which led to the deaths of three patients.
Additionally, doctors’ cars in the parking lot were also damaged.
Two security guards posted at the hospital were beaten up by the lawyers, and after their condition worsened, they were shifted to Services Hospital for treatment.
According to the FIR, one group of lawyers also entered and vandalised the nurses’ ward.
The lawyer swore at and harassed the staff.
The shirt of the nurses’ ward in-charge was torn and her locket was snatched.
When the situation got out of control, an additional contingent of police arrived at the site and when they attempted to vacate the lawyers from the PIC, some of the lawyers discharged their firearms.
According to the FIR, the incident lasted approximately two hours.
A second FIR was registered on behalf of the police.
According to the complainant, Inspector Syed Intikhab Hussain, some lawyers armed with a pistol and sticks approached his police vehicle and with an intention to kill, directly fired on him.
He added that realising the seriousness of the situation, he attempted to drive off.
During this process, his vehicle went onto the footpath, and lawyers surrounded it and started damaging it.
He said that one of the protesters then set the police vehicle on fire, while others shot at the car.
The case was registered on Wednesday under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 290 (public nuisance), 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 353 (assault), 324 (attempt to murder), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions) of the police.
A day after the protests, services at PIC remain suspended with the exception of the coronary care unit (CCU).
Meanwhile, clean up at the hospital is underway.
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