LAHORE: A seven-month pregnant nurse and her three other colleagues suffered multiple injuries as police thrashed them severely when they along with their other colleagues reached The Mall on Friday to register their protest.
The police also ‘detained’ five nurses and sent them behind the bars, but they were set free after some time on the direction of the provincial government.
The injured nurses were rushed to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where doctors kept the pregnant nurse under observation to prevent ‘intrauterine death of her fetus due to the abdominal trauma’. Her other colleagues suffered head and bone injuries.
Nurses had been staging a sit-in on Egerton Road for four days to press the government to regularise their services.
Finding the Punjab government unmoved, the nurses decided to shift their protest camp on The Mall on Friday in a bid to get attraction of the chief minister and other parliamentarians.
As soon as they left their camp, the male police in anti-riot gear intercepted them. The nurses resisted and many of them managed to reach The Mall in groups.
Witnesses said the police resorted to baton charge and also used kicks and punches against nurses in a bid to disperse them.
They said the seven-month pregnant, Asia of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, could not bear severe pain and slipped into coma after facing severe torture at the hands of merciless policemen.
Knowing that Asia was pregnant, her colleagues started crying and cursing police. She was rushed to the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where she underwent ultrasound and other diagnostic tests which suggested abdominal bleeding and some other gyne-related complications. The doctor, however, said the baby was safe.
In the meantime, hundreds of nurses from various government teaching hospitals of the city also joined their colleagues on The Mall when electronic media ran breaking news about the death of a nurse which was later turned out to be false.
The nurses staged a sit-in at the Faisal Square (Charing Cross) on The Mall and continued their protest there.
Asma, a representative of protesting nurses, told Dawn that the policemen turned unruly to the extent that they chased some of her colleagues who ran for shelter in some nearby shops. They did not even spare a seven-month pregnant nurse, she said.
“We were in a state of shock and disappointment when the Punjab government did not take notice of our four-day agitation on Egerton Road, she said adding that nurses wanted to register their peaceful protest on The Mall.She alleged the police had arrested their 10 colleagues and shifted them to the Racecourse Women Police Station.
The Young Doctors Association, Punjab, the Lahore Chapter of Pakistan Medical Association and Punjab Paramedics Alliance called their emergent meetings and strongly condemned the ‘police torture’ on nurses.
YDA senior office bearer Dr Amer Bandesha said the meeting had decided not to extend treatment to any police official/officer at state-run hospitals of the province.
He said the YDA had also demanded judicial probe into the grave incident.
PMA secretary-general Dr Izhar Chaudhry held the health department responsible for the ugly situation saying the delaying tactics in regularising ad hoc nurses led to the unfortunate incident.
He said that nurses were demanding their right by holding peaceful protests. He demanded immediate suspension of the policemen involved in the torture of nurses.