Protest against NLE: 12 medics injured as police resort to baton charge, pepper spray in Lahore

Published August 30, 2021
A large number of medical students and Young Doctors Association representatives were protesting outside the examination centre against the NLE for the second day. — Getty Images/File
A large number of medical students and Young Doctors Association representatives were protesting outside the examination centre against the NLE for the second day. — Getty Images/File

LAHORE: At least 12 medical students protesting against the National Licencing Examination (NLE) suffered injuries when police on Sunday resorted to baton charge and pepper spray to disperse them outside an examination centre at Barkat Market, Garden Town.

A large number of medical students and Young Doctors Association (YDA) representatives were protesting outside the examination centre against the NLE for the second day.

Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) had made it mandatory for all medical graduates currently doing house job, to clear the NLE for their permanent registration.

Clearing the NLE was declared mandatory for both MBBS and BDS students, local as well as foreign qualified, for their permanent job and medical practice in Pakistan. The move has encountered opposition from the medical fraternity.

The PMC had announced that it would conduct the examination for local medics at a centre at Barkat Market on Friday, but it had to be cancelled because of the protest.

On Sunday, the NLE for foreign qualified doctors was being held at Barkat Market, under tight security. A heavy contingent, including women police, had placed barriers outside the examination centre where protesting medical students and doctors arrived.

According to police, the protesters tried to remove the barriers installed outside the examination hall at which the personnel started baton charge, fired tear gas and used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse them.

As a result, at least 12 doctors and students suffered injuries, while five of them fainted on the spot.

The injured were shifted to the Services Hospital where they were discharged after being given treatment.

Services Hospital YDA condemned the police action “against peaceful protesting medical students” and announced they would wear black armbands on Monday (today) “to honor the sacrifices of young medics” and protest in front of the hospital’s OPD at 12pm.

YDA representative Dr Imran told Dawn that the police had used pepper spray and baton-charged the protesters to disperse them, which was brutal.

He warned the YDA would close OPDs all over the country if the government did not accept the medics’ demands, adding the protest would continue till the cancellation of the NLE.

He also warned of closure of emergencies of all hospitals in the country if the demands were not met.

Meanwhile, a Lahore police spokesperson said the police had to used “authorised” pepper spray when the protesters tried to remove the barriers to enter the examination centre and disrupt the exam. The pepper spray was used to stop the violent protesters and it did not cause any harm to them, he claimed.

He claimed none of the protesters was taken in custody and the exam also concluded safely.

Meanwhile, the traffic also remained suspended for several hours from Kalma Chowk to Barkat Market due to the situation, causing problems for the commuters.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2021

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