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Rangers-doctors brawl leaves two injured

KARACHI, June 4: A fracas in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Tuesday left two doctors injured allegedly at the hands of the Rangers, while protesting doctors stormed into the hospital’s administration block where the management accused them of ransacking the portion housing the executive director’s office.

The JPMC doctors’ association called for a strike in the hospital, except for the emergency ward, on Tuesday to protest against the management that it said “refused to listen to doctors’ grievances”.

There were conflicting versions about violence at the hospital in which two doctors sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised.

While Dr Javed Jamali, who heads the hospital’s association, accused the Rangers personnel deputed at the hospital of storming into the emergency ward and thrashing the doctors working there, JPMC joint executive director Dr Seemin Jamali disputed it.

Terming the doctors’ claim ‘fabricated’, she said the Rangers were there to protect the hospital and they intervened to counter the aggressive protesters.

The Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Medical Association condemned the “manhandling of doctors by the Rangers” saying “the Rangers, army and police have an old habit of conquering their own lands and hospitals every few months”.

“Instead of fighting terrorists and killers, they find it easier to beat up doctors. We, the doctors association, will not allow such brutal actions by those who draw salaries from our taxes,” said Dr Samrina Hashmi, president of the Sindh PMA.She demanded that the authorities take strict action against those responsible.

Dr Seemin Jamali said the management had asked the paramilitary force for protection, but it could not arrive when the “violent doctors spearheaded by hooligans” stormed into the executive director’s office and occupied it.

“The executive director and several other senior officials, including myself, were in the committee room when they stormed into the administration building. They broke into the committee room as well and ransacked it just as they did with the director’s office,” she said.

She alleged that the protesters used foul language against the senior officials and added that she did not know whether any of the protesters was injured at the hands of the law-enforcers.

She demanded that the authorities take action against those who damaged the public property and harassed their seniors.

Dr Jamali said two of their protesting colleagues had been detained by the Rangers only to be released after over three hours.

Mustafa Jamal Qazi, deputy commissioner of district south, said the doctors had been taken into custody as a measure to enforce the rule of law.

“Given the fact that the JPMC is among the vital installations, the Rangers had been assigned to ensure peace in the vicinity. They acted when they saw the doctors and others had started closing wards and facilities,” said the deputy commissioner.

He said the district administration had not been informed about the doctors’ protest in advance and they came to know about the brawl between them and the Rangers through the news flashed on private news channels.

He said he got the protesters convinced to postpone their protest for a day during which he would inform the competent authority about their demands.

“We have reported about the incident to the senior authorities and will settle the issue soon. Though their demands are not wrong, the way they adopted to protest was wrong,” he said.

Dr Jamali said around 5,000 people had to go back home unattended at the JPMC OPDs because of the strike. Besides, at least 60 operations had been postponed during the day.

The emergency remained opened and emergency surgeries had been performed, yet the strike had put a large number of people in distress.

Dr Javed Jamali, however, said the strike was decided as a last resort when the administration turned down their request to address their woes.

Dr Hashmi demanded that the provincial government address the JPMC controversy that had lingered unsettled for more than two and a half years.