Punjab Police registered cases against 250 lawyers

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LAHORE: Punjab Police on Thursday registered two separate cases against 250 lawyers under various criminal charges for attacking the Pakistan Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and ransacking the property a day earlier, reports said.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against 200-250 unidentified lawyers on the complaint of an official of the hospital, while another was registered on the complaint of police in which 15 lawyers were nominated. The cases were registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including 322 (qatl-bis-sabab), 452 (trespassing), 353 (assault to deter public servant from performing duty), 354 (assault on woman to outrage her modesty), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 395 (dacoity) as well as Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

The first FIR was filed by Saqib Shafi Sheikh on behalf of the PIC with Shadman police station in which he has nominated 21 lawyers – including Lahore Bar Association (LBA) General Secretary Malik Maqsood Khokhar, Vice President Ijaz Basra and LBA presidential hopeful Rana Intiza.

In the FIR, the complainant alleged that he was on duty at PIC’s emergency department along with other doctors when he received a telephone call warning that a group of 200-250 enraged lawyers – led by LBA General Secretary Malik Maqsood Khokhar and Vice President Ijaz Basra – was heading towards the facility. Some of the attackers were carrying firearms and clubs and they were instigated by the senior lawyers leading the group, he added.

The complainant added that the lawyers barged into the medical facility after scuffling with the police. They damaged and destroyed vital medical equipment in different departments of the hospital while others tortured doctors and medical staff. He alleged that a group of lawyers also forced their way into the nurses’ hostel and manhandled the hostel in-charge. He further alleged that the lawyers also resorted to aerial firing and the melee lasted at least two hours, creating panic and fear among people.

A separate FIR, lodged by Police Inspector Intikhab Hussain, alleged that some lawyers with a pistol and sticks approached his police vehicle and opened direct fire with an intention to kill him. He added that sensing the gravity of the situation, he got into the car to leave, but the car ran over a sidewalk where lawyers surrounded it and started damaging it. He said the protesters fired on the police vehicle before setting it alight.

The case was registered under Section 7 of the ATA and Sections 290, 148, 353, 324, 436 and 186 of the PPC.

Later in the day, at least 52 lawyers detained during rioting on Wednesday were presented before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore. They were brought to the court under tight security. A heavy contingent of law enforcers was deployed on the court premises.

After a brief hearing, ATC Judge Abdul Qayyum Khan sent the accused to jail on a 14-day judicial remand. The police had covered the faces of the accused lawyers while bringing them to the ATC.

A day after the protests, services at PIC remained suspended with the exception of the coronary care unit (CCU). Clean-up at the hospital is underway while the patients have been shifted to other hospitals.

The Grand Health Alliance, comprising young doctors and paramedics, said they would observe black day for three days against the attack on the PIC which wore a deserted look on Thursday. Security staff and administration officials were present on duty while a trail of Wednesday’s rampage, including damaged furniture and equipment, and broken window glasses, was visible everywhere.

Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid visited the hospital Thursday morning and held a marathon meeting with the administration and senior doctors. According to reports, the minister asked the staff to go back to work, but they excused saying they won’t until security at the facility is beefed up and all the lawyers involved in rioting are arrested.

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