Tragic scenes were witnessed at the Jinnah Hospital’s Emergency Department on Tuesday where supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri were brought after police shot at them during a crackdown on encroachments.
Seven people died of injuries and 85 are still under treatment at the hospital.
“Of the 85 injured, 24 are policemen, four station house officers and a deputy superintendent (DSP),” a hospital official told The Express Tribune.
Three of the people injured in the Model Town clashes were taken to Lahore General Hospital and seven to the Services Hospital.
The deceased were identified as 45-year-old Tanzeel Amjad from Tajpura Scheme, Umar Raza from Kot Lakhpat, Safdar Hussain from Gujjarpura, Ghulam Rasool from Aziz Bhatti Town, Shazia Murtaza from Tajpura Scheme, Asim Hussain from Manawan and Muhammad Iqbal from Baba Farid Colony.
Tanzeela Amjad and Shazia Murtaza, who died of bullet injuries, were from the same family.
“They were innocent and had responded to the call of our leader. This government is shameless…it has the blood of innocent women on its hands. They cannot rule with blood-stained hands,” said a relative of the women.
“It was a brutal act on the part of the police. I don’t think they were policemen. They looked like terrorists from some banned organisation. They shot indiscriminately at people. When one of our workers was hit by a bullet and fell in front of me, I moved forward to catch him but a policeman shot at me. I was lucky not to get hit. I think they were members of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi,” said Qasim Gujjar, a PAT worker.
“Policemen don’t shoot directly at people. The weapons the men were carrying were not the kind of weapons policemen have. I saw two people hit by bullets before my eyes. One was hit in the head, the other under the armpit. Those who went ahead to carry the injured were also in the line of fire,” said Raja Bilal, one of the attendants at the hospital who was present at the time of the incident.
Shafqat Feroze, general secretary of Bazm-i-Minhaj, was taking care of the injured at the hospital.
He said, “I don’t have any proof but it appeared as if those who shot at us were not policemen but workers of some banned outfit. Most of those died had bullet injuries on their faces and heads, proof that the policemen had shot directly at them.”
He said police had been shelling at the secretariat since Monday night.
“We negotiated with the police at around 9am. They asked us to remove barricades from near the Minhajul Quran Secretariat. We showed them the court orders allowing us to place barricades there. At 12 noon, the policemen clashed with our workers and shot at them.”
Adviser to the Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said 35 of those injured were getting treatment at Jinnah Hospital.
Political leaders, including MPA Murad Ras, Farid Paracha, former PML-Q MPA Seemal Kamran and Amna Ulfat, visited the injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2014.