8 doctors injured, 70 held in clash with police
QUETTA: At least eight doctors were injured and over 70 arrested on Tuesday after police used batons and lobbed teargas shells to stop protesting doctors from staging a sit-in near the Chief Minister’s House.
The doctors were protesting for acceptance of their demands which include payment of salary and other perks on a par with what their colleagues have been getting in the three other provinces and reinstatement of 127 young doctors sacked by the Balochistan government.
The striking doctors, immediately after the police action, closed emergency wards of all government hospitals in Quetta and other areas of the province.
All private hospitals and clinics have been closed by striking doctors who announced a tough line of action to press the government for acceptance of their demands.
A camp has been set up outside of the Quetta Civil Hospital where senior and joiner doctors were attending to emergency patients only.
The leaders of striking young doctors said that 20 doctors were injured in police firing and teargas shelling. “Five doctors received bullet injuries,” Doctor Alam Mengal said, adding that condition of two doctors was serious.
He said that over 200 striking doctors had been arrested and were being tortured by police. However, police confirmed arrest of only 70 doctors. “Only 70 doctors have been arrested during their violent demonstration,” SP City Abdullah Afridi said.
Hundreds of young striking doctors, after attending a protest meeting in Civil Hospital premises, started walking towards the Chief Minister House and the Governor’s House, carrying placards and banners.
When the doctors reached Prince Road area and started marching to the Chief Minister and the Governor House area a heavy contingent of police deployed Zarghoon road area blocked their way, putting barricades and informed the doctors that they could not go to the chief minister’s house.
However, doctors ignored the warning of police officers and continued moving to the CM House to stage a sit-in there. Police used batons and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the doctors. They also fired shots in the air to stop the procession.
As a result of teargas shelling and baton charge, eight doctors, including the President of Young Doctors’ Association, Dr Abdul Samad Panizai, were injured. They were taken to the civil hospital.
The clash between police and striking doctors continued for over an hour. Dr Alam Mengal alleged at a press conference that police fired bullets at the striking doctors without warning and severely beat them up, injuring 20 doctors. He said that police had arrested over 200 doctors, including Dr Samad Panizai.
He announced that doctors would not bow down before the administration’s highhandedness and would continue their protest against the provincial government till their demands were accepted.
Dr Mengal said that a joint meeting of young doctors and Pakistan Medical Association would be held in Quetta on Wednesday to decide a future line of action.