YDA resumes strike: 50 doctors arrested, released a few hours later

Businessman arrested for installing tents for hunger strike camp.

Owais Jafri February 06, 2013
The road in front of the hospital remained blocked for more than four hours as more than 300 policemen, hospital staff and protesting doctors faced off. PHOTO: PPI


More than 50 young doctors and a tent service owner were arrested on Wednesday over the YDA hunger strike camp set up at Nishtar Hospital. They were released some hours later after negotiations between the protesting doctors and the hospital administration.

Police said the Young Doctors Association (Multan chapter) resumed their hunger strike on Wednesday after calling it off three days ago.

When workers from a tent service arrived at the hospital to install tents for the hunger strike camp, the company’s owner, Ali Hassan, was caught by the hospital administration and handed over to the police.

The road in front of the hospital remained blocked for more than four hours as more than 300 policemen, hospital staff and protesting doctors faced off.

The arrested were later released after YDA (South Punjab) President Dr Mazhar Chaudary threatened resort to violence unless they were not released. Calling the arrests illegal, he said the young doctors had been protesting peacefully.

The YDA strike continues after the release.

Police said the doctors were arrested for trying to forcibly enter the hospital. They said they had permission to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters if they turned violent.

The medical superintendent said that protesters were not allowed to enter the hospital. He said no one had stopped them from protesting peacefully away from the hospital.

For the last 27 days, some 100 young doctors of the YDA’s south Punjab chapter have been protesting against the government for “terminating and transferring 400 doctors in violation of rules and regulations”.

The protesting doctors include Dr Chaudhry, who has been transferred to Attock; Vice President Dr Ali Waqas, who has been transferred to Mianwali; and General Secretary Dr Jehangir Riaz, who has been transferred to Bhakkar.

Dr Chaudhry told The Express Tribune that no one from his team had joined the new stations, because the orders were not legal. He said the Health Department had stopped salaries of more than 20 doctors at Nishtar Hospital since January 2013.

The doctors had called off their protest three days ago, but then decided to resume it and go on a hunger strike from Wednesday, he added.

Dr Waqas said that more than 1,500 patients had been treated at the YDA’s outdoor camps. He said the patients were being given free medicines provided by philanthropists. He said YDA was maintaining complete record of the patients treated at the camps. He said the young doctors were determined to continue their hunger strike and that the Punjab government would be responsible in case of any death in the hunger strike.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2013.


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