Pakistan News

30 doctors, paramedics injured in clash with police

30 doctors, paramedics injured in clash with police

ISLAMABAD: As many as 30 doctors and paramedics were injured after a baton charge by police near National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chowk on Tuesday.

Nearly half of those injured have been hospitalised.

However, the healthcare professionals, who have been demanding unfreezing of their health risk allowance, continued their sit-in at Nadra Chowk. They said their protest would continue until their demands were met.

Some protesters also attempted to interrupt work in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) emergency department following which the police were called to the hospital.

The health risk allowance was approved by the Pakistan People’s Party government in 2011. The increase in the allowance is equal to the raise given in the basic salary every year. However this allowance was frozen by the current government in the latest budget announcement.

The allowance is given to healthcare personnel due to their exposure to radiation and various types of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis (TB) and cancer. Doctors had announced plans to march from Polyclinic to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on September 8.

Almost 1,000 healthcare professionals from Pims, Polyclinic, Capital Hospital, Federal General Hospital and the National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine marched from Polyclinic to D Chowk, where they were intercepted by police who did not allow them on to Constitution Avenue.

The protesters then headed towards Constitution Avenue via Nadra Chowk, but were again met by the police, who baton charged those trying to enter the ‘red zone’.

Pims United Staff Committee president Riaz Gujjar told Dawn that many protesters, including the chairman of the Joint Action Committee Dr Sartaj Ali Khan, were injured.

“However, we have decided to hold the sit-in at Nadra Chowk, and it will continue till the allowance is unfreezed,” Gujjar said.

Many protesters were shifted to hospitals due to injuries and heatstroke.

Dr Sharif Astori, who was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (IVU) due to heatstroke, told Dawn that several protesters were arrested and many were later released.

“Only Rs30 million is required to restore the allowance, but the government isn’t willing to do it. They have already restored the allowances of the bomb disposal squad (BDS), judiciary and President House employees, even though their allowances were frozen along with ours,” Astori said.

Aabpara Station House Officer (SHO) Asjad Mehmood told Dawn that the protesters were not allowed into the ‘red zone’.

A police official, requesting anonymity, said that it was false that almost 30 protesters were injured.

“According to the information available to the police, Dr Sartaj, Dr Astori, Dr Khalid, Nasir, Gul Mohammad, Raja Ilyas, Mr Fayaz and nursing students Rita and Saba, and a few others were injured. Not a single person was arrested,” the official said.

Meanwhile, health workers arrived at Pims on Tuesday afternoon and instructed hospital staff to stop administering treatment in the emergency department.

Police were called to the hospital to prevent the protesters from interrupting treatment procedures.

Pims spokesperson Dr Ayesha Esani told Dawn that those who tried to initiate a strike at the hospital were outsiders, which is why the police were called.

“Police arrived within minutes, and treatment continued in the emergency department,” she said.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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