Islamabad: After what happened in Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) a day earlier, Punjab government on Thursday deployed paramilitary troops at sensitive points including the PIC, Lahore High Court (LHC) building, Punjab Assembly in order to meet a possible backlash by lawyers whose large number were booked by police for rampaging the PIC and torturing staff there.
Following a clash with doctors a few days ago, the lawyers on Wednesday stormed the PIC that resulted in deaths of around seven critical patients, suspension of services at the premiere health facility of the province and a countrywide condemnation by civil society, doctors, even senior lawyers including Barrister Aetzaz Ahsan and judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Shadman Police have filed two separate cases against more than 250 lawyers and arrested 50 of them in late Wednesday night crackdown.
An FIR has been 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 First Information Report registered against lawyers, they tortured doctors, damaged public property, created panic and fear.
The police have nominated general secretary of the Lahore Bar Malik Maqsood Khokhar, vice president of Ijaz Basra and presidential candidate Rana Intizar in the FIR.
It has been mentioned that these lawyers provoked their colleagues and gave them the instructions that if someone including doctors or medical staff came their way they should not spare them.
According to the first FIR, a group of lawyers also entered and vandalised the nurses’ ward. They swore at and harassed the staff there.
In the second FIR police have included Anti-Terrorism Act (ACT) sections ATA-7 and according to the complainant Inspector Syed Intikhab Hussain, some lawyers with pistol and sticks approached his police vehicle and with an intention to kill, directly fired at him.
On Thursday, in protest against arrest and registration of cases, Punjab bar council staged a protest demonstration and boycotted court work.
Besides, Karachi, Peshawar, Sukkur, Multan and other cities, in Islamabad too, District Bar and the Islamabad High Court Bar members boycotted court proceedings and demanded withdrawal of cases against lawyers.
Secretary Islamabad High Court Bar Association while talking to media said Chief Justice of the IHC Athar Minallah asked the lawyers not to observe strike.
“We told the judge when he took out rallies and processions for independence of judiciary and restoration of the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, we followed him, now how can he ask us to refrain from strike,” he said.
A number of lawyers also threatened media persons their entrance in the IHC would be banned if they didn’t show the ‘other’ side of the picture.