LAHORE: Punjab Police on Thursday registered two cases against 250 lawyers under various criminal charges for allegedly attacking Pakistan Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and ransacking the property in Lahore a day earlier.
A first information report (FIR) was registered against 200-250 unidentified lawyers on the complaint of an official of the hospital, while another was registered on the complaint of police in which 15 lawyers were nominated.
The cases were registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including 322 (qatl-bis-sabab), 452 (trespassing), 353 (assault to deter public servant from performing duty), 354 (assault on woman to outrage her modesty), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 395 (dacoity) as well as Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The provincial capital remained under the grip of fear and chaos as angry lawyers attacked the PIC, leaving three patients dead as riots and vandalism began in and outside the facility.
Punjab Health Minister Yasmeen Rashid later told the media that the casualties took place after doctors were unable to provide the patients timely treatment during their bid to avert the assault.
A group of more than 200 lawyers, who had ongoing issues with the doctors of the PIC, stormed the hospital, vandalised property and damaged dozens of vehicles of visitors. They also set ablaze a police van.
The incident was reportedly triggered by a video clip of some doctors, who had ridiculed the lawyers.
Punjab Information Minister Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, who arrived at the hospital to mediate, was also manhandled by the mob of lawyers.
According to the FIR registered on the complaint of Saqib Shafi Sheikh on behalf of the PIC against leaders of legal fraternity, the administration was informed about the lawyers moving towards the cardiac hospital at around noon on Wednesday.
The group, as per the details provided to the police, was led by Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHBCA) General Secretary Malik Maqsood Khokar, vice-president Aijaz Basra, Rana Intezar, Rana Adeel, Azeem Sindhu, Ghulam Abbas and Sahira Awan.
The complainant also accused them of instigating violence against the doctors and asking their fellow lawyers to attack anyone coming their way.
Private television channels showed live footage of the scuffles from the scene where some of the lawyers were also seen brandishing pistols and firing shots in the air.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who ordered an inquiry into the incident, directed Punjab provincial government to take stern action against all those involved in the attack.
Strike call by lawyers
The LHBCA has called a province-wide strike against the arrests made by police. The police have detained several lawyers who were believed to be involved in the violence
The provincial government also deployed personnel of Punjab Rangers at 10 locations in Lahore in order to control the situation.
A platoon each has been deployed at Governor’s House, both sides of GOR I and II, Punjab Assembly, GPO Chowk, The Mall, Punjab Civil Secretariat, Aiwan-e-Adal, Supreme Court Lahore Registry, Lahore High Court, office of IG Punjab, and Punjab Institute of Cardiology.