LAHORE: One of the protesting farmers injured in the tear gas shelling two days ago, breathed his last at a city hospital on Thursday.
Malik Ashfaq Langrial was Vehari district finance secretary of the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (Anwar group) and had fallen ill after the protesting farmers’ clash with police at Thokar Niaz Beg late on Tuesday night.
The police had used water cannon and fired tear gas shells to disperse farmers from various Punjab districts who had assembled at the southern entrance to the city (Multan Road) and partially blocked it to traffic.
The farmer leader was shifted to Jinnah Hospital emergency ward on Thursday noon when his condition worsened where he breathed his last after around three hours.
Jinnah MS says PKI member was treated for cardiac problem
Jinnah Medical Superintendent Dr Yahya Sultan says Langrial was treated for cardiac problem but he could not survive, while PKI President Chaudhry Anwar alleges that Langrial had fallen to the ground due to water pressure of the water cannon, while his condition deteriorated for inhaling the tear gas used by the police.
“The tear gas shelling and showering of chemical mixed (contaminated) water claimed the life of the Kissan Ittehad activist.”
Heirs of Langrial refused to get a post mortem examination of the body and took it away for burial.
Expressing his grief at the loss of life, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, who had held parleys to convince the farmers to postpone their protest, says he has ordered forming a medical board to ascertain the cause of death.
Meanwhile, various farmer bodies and political parties have expressed their grief at the death of Ashfaq and condemned the government for use of torture to disperse the peaceful protesters.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif said in a statement Malik Ashfaq was martyred by “the torture of flour and sugar thief government and the Selected government is responsible for the murder”.
She said the incident gave the masses the message that those who would demand their rights would be killed as lady health workers, doctors, government employees and media men all were being meted out the same treatment.
She demanded that the “killers” of Malik Ashfaq be brought to book.
Punjab PPP General Secretary Chaudhry Manzoor, who reached the hospital on receiving reports of the death and met heirs of the deceased, has held both the premier and the chief minister responsible for the death and demanded registration of a murder case against them.
He also demanded that the government disclose how many more injured farmers were admitted to hospitals.
Expressing its grief at the incident, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee alleged that chemical-mixed water was used to disperse the farmers protesting for their basic rights. It demanded registration of a murder case against those who ordered the baton charge and use of chemical-mixed water on the protesters.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2020