LAHORE: Over 100 armed police personnel forced their entry into the office of the dean of the Shaikh Zayed Hospital (SZH) under the supervision of a DSP and allegedly threatened him for sealing a private pharmacy, a defaulter of over Rs45 million rent.

The situation got tense when the hospital’s management submitted a request to the police high-ups for security to seal the pharmacy claiming that it was operating illegally on the premises of the state-run federal institute.

As the police denied help, the institute’s management sealed the private property operating on its premises from 2017 on ‘stay order of a civil court’.

The senior officials of the institute said instead of providing security to the hospital administration, over 100 armed police personnel suddenly entered the office of SZH dean Prof Dr Waqar Ahmad, allegedly hurling threats at him for sealing the pharmacy.

SP denies allegations, saying police acted on 15 call

They said the SZH had sealed the property on Tuesday morning, the day when the pharmacy owner withdrew its case from the civil court it had filed in 2017 and obtained a stay order. Since then, the [rent] liabilities reached Rs45m, they said.

Prof Waqar told Dawn that the DSP concerned entered his office along with over 100 armed policemen and tried to force him to re-open the pharmacy saying that its owner had a stay order granted by another civil court.

He said he tried to convince the police officer that the institute sealed the private pharmacy when its owner withdrew the case from the court.

“I also showed the DSP the official documents pertaining to the court and further told him that the owner had brought the stay order of the other civil court a few hours after the institute sealed the private facility”, the SZH dean said.

The SZH chairman/dean said he asked the pharmacy owner to go for contempt of court against the institute instead of involving the police as it was purely a civil matter.

“I told the police that the case had been pending since 2017 and the civil court had given the pharmacy owner last chance on the previous hearing of the case on Oct 5 that it would decide the matter on the next date of hearing on Oct 10”, he said.

Prof Waqar said he told the police officer that the institute had reserved the right to take a legal action against the private facility on withdrawing the case by its owner.

“At this, the DSP got annoyed, threatened me that he would take legal action (criminal case) if he didn’t cooperate with the police”, the hospital’s head said.

Prof Ahmad said the DSP along with the armed police force unsealed the pharmacy, ignoring the institute’s serious reservations and legal documentary evidence.

To a question, he said under the agreement signed in 2017, the pharmacy owner was bound to pay Rs600,000 per month rent to the institute with 10 per cent annual increase.

Instead of following the agreement the pharmacy owner obtained a stay from the civil court and stopped paying rent, he said, adding that the institute had challenged the stay order since then.

Whenever the court tried to decide the matter, the rival party used to move an application for the transfer of the case to another court, he said, adding that following this practice the case was transferred six times during as many years.

However, this time the court set a deadline of Tuesday (Oct 10) for deciding the case, the SZH dean said.

He has appealed to Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, IG Dr Usman Anwar and Lahore Capital City Police Officer Billal Siddique Kamyana to get the matter probed at high level from a panel of ‘independent’ police officials to check how a private pharmacy owner influenced the police.

When contacted, Iqbal Town division SP Usman Tepu denied the allegations of the SZH dean saying that they acted on the 15 call of the pharmacy owner who claimed that he had a stay order and the hospital was sealing his private business illegally.

He said according to the law the hospital was bound to seal the property through a court bailiff.

He also denied allegations of threatening the dean by the DSP saying that Prof Waqar allegedly misbehaved with the police when they reached there and asked him to follow the law.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2023

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