Clash Erupts between Doctors and Police in Sahiwal After 11 Infants Die

The tension escalated when Sahiwal District Police Officer (DPO) Faisal Shahzad and his team moved in to arrest the doctors
Eyewitnesses reported that police resorted to baton-charging the protesters, resulting in injuries to around two dozen doctors and 30 paramedics. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Eyewitnesses reported that police resorted to baton-charging the protesters, resulting in injuries to around two dozen doctors and 30 paramedics. (Representational image: Unsplash)

Following the fire deaths of eleven babies, Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz ordered the firing and arrest of four top doctors for carelessness. This sparked a violent altercation between police and medical personnel at the Sahiwal Teaching Hospital. The event, which happened on June 9 in the pediatric ward of the hospital, was caused by an air conditioning system short circuit.

During her visit to the hospital, CM Nawaz reviewed the findings of four independent inquiries, which contradicted the hospital administration's initial reports attributing the deaths to medical reasons. The independent investigations, backed by CCTV footage, revealed that the infants’ conditions worsened when they were hastily relocated from the burning pediatric ward to the emergency ward. The hospital’s fire extinguishers were found to be non-functional, having expired in April, and the administration had ignored warnings to replace them.

In a meeting lasting over two hours, CM Nawaz criticized the hospital's management for the expired fire safety equipment, deeming the hospital’s own reports as inaccurate and unacceptable. She held the senior administration and doctors responsible for the tragedy and dismissed Medical Superintendent Akhter Hussain, Deputy MS Dr. Usman Anwar, Assistant MS Dr. Umer, and Sahiwal Medical College Principal Prof. Dr. Imran Hasan from their positions. She also ordered their immediate arrest.

The Young Doctors Association (YDA) spearheaded the protests, condemning the arrests and threatening to shut down emergency services across Punjab if the detained doctors were not released. 
 (Representational image: Pixabay)
The Young Doctors Association (YDA) spearheaded the protests, condemning the arrests and threatening to shut down emergency services across Punjab if the detained doctors were not released. (Representational image: Pixabay)

The tension escalated when Sahiwal District Police Officer (DPO) Faisal Shahzad and his team moved in to arrest the doctors. The hospital staff, including doctors and paramedics, protested vehemently, leading to a confrontation. Eyewitnesses reported that police resorted to baton-charging the protesters, resulting in injuries to around two dozen doctors and 30 paramedics.

As the CM's convoy left the hospital, young doctors reportedly attacked it, leading to further clashes. The chaos unfolded in front of over 300 patients in the outpatient department, who watched from corridors and windows. Dr. Waqar, working in the emergency ward, confirmed that three doctors were in critical condition. Following the clash, ten more doctors were arrested for resisting the police.

The Young Doctors Association (YDA) spearheaded the protests, condemning the arrests and threatening to shut down emergency services across Punjab if the detained doctors were not released. This protest caused significant disruption, leaving over 500 patients unattended, particularly impacting the emergency ward.

Dr. Usama, the district head of the YDA, argued that while the termination of the senior doctors might be justified, their arrest was not. In a late-night press conference, he demanded the withdrawal of the termination letters and action against the police officers involved in the baton charge.

YDA Punjab President Dr. Shoaib Niazi called an emergency meeting, warning the government of a province-wide shutdown of state hospitals if their demands were not met. DPO Shahzad later announced that the arrested doctors had been released on orders from the Punjab government. In an attempt to bring comfort amid the devastation, CM Nawaz met with the parents of the dead children, gave them compensation money, and asked about their well-being.

(Input from various sources)

(Rehash/ Susmita Bhandary/MSM)

Eyewitnesses reported that police resorted to baton-charging the protesters, resulting in injuries to around two dozen doctors and 30 paramedics. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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