RAHIM YAR KHAN: The Shaikh Zayed Medical College Hospital (SZMCH) on Thursday alleged that some of its departments were “attacked” by police in order to occupy the land and some patients and staff members held hostage, while the law enforcement agency refuted the allegations.

In a press release, the hospital’s focal person claimed the their departments were “attacked” by the police force and more than 30 patients and staff of the Psychiatry Department, Addiction Centre and Dermatology Department held hostage for over two hours.

In 1999, a separate unit for drug addicts had been inaugurated by the then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif under police control on the premises that belonged to the force inside the police lines. Prior to 1999, the building housed the Police Welfare Hospital.

However, due to a lack of capacity to run the unit, the police formally requested the administration in 2002 to let it manage the affairs.

The Psychiatry Department and Drug Addiction Centre formally initiated their services as part of SZMCH in 2017 and an agreement was signed between the Punjab Police, district administration and the hospital administration in 2019.

Hospital claims depts ‘attacked’, over 30 patients, staff held hostage

The SZMCH claimed to have cleared all pending dues, including rent, until June 2023. However, on Wednesday night, the district police allegedly conducted a raid and tried to forcefully occupy the land after parking its bus at the main gate, and threatened the administration to vacate the building.

Following the tense situation, members of the Young Doctors Association reached the spot and threatened to suspend the emergency services if policemen did not stop harassing doctors, patients and the staff.

SZMCH Principal Prof Dr Saleem Leghari condemned the act and requested the authorities to take action. Medical Superintendent Dr Agha Tauheed Ahmed Khan called it a mala fide act to disrupt the services of the mental health facility.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson Saif Ali Wains denied all the allegations levelled by the SZMCH administration, and told Dawn that the security personnel had gone to take over the Psychiatry Department as the land belonged to the police department and its rent agreement with the SZMCH had expired.

The police had been consistently asking the hospital administration to vacate the premises, but to no avail, he claimed.

He further said after the policemen attempted to get the premises vacated on Wednesday night, the rent agreement was renewed on Thursday and the issue had been settled.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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