QUETTA: Police arrested over a dozen young doctors in Quetta on Monday while they were protesting against the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in provincial hospitals as the war against Covid-19 intensifies.
Young Doctors Association (YDA) and paramedical staff began a demonstration from Civil Hospital and marched up to the chief minister’s secretariat where they were met by baton-wielding policemen, who proceeded to baton-charge and arrest several doctors.
YDA Balochistan President Yasir Achakzai said that they had marched up to the CM’s secretariat against a complete lack of protective gear for medical workers who were playing a key role in the country’s fight against the novel coronavirus. However, they were baton-charged by security forces and “dozens” were arrested near the Red Zone, he added.
A few members of the Balochistan Assembly also reached the venue and tried to negotiate with the protesting doctors and paramedic staff.
Following the arrests, the YDA chief announced a boycott of young doctors’ services from government hospitals. “We suspend all our services following the high-handedness of police,” Achakzai said in an emergency press conference.
Meanwhile, Quetta Deputy Inspector General of Police Razzaq Cheema confirmed the arrests of “dozens” of doctors but denied the use of batons against them.
“Yes, police arrested dozens of protesting doctors,” Cheema said. He denied the allegations that police had assaulted the protesting doctors but added that “a scuffle broke out after the medics tried to cross barricades near the Red Zone”.
“The protesting doctors have been shifted to various police stations in Quetta,” DIG Cheema said.
The protest in Quetta comes a day after 13 doctors tested positive for Covid-19 in the provincial capital.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet condemned the “torture & arrest” of doctors in Quetta, referring to police’s actions as “shameful behaviour”.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a statement, termed the torture on doctors as ‘hooliganism’ of the government.
Bilawal condemned the incident, saying it is unfair to torture and detain doctors, especially at this time when the nation needs them the most.
He went on to say that the entire world is praising doctors for their role against COVID19 while on the other hand the PTI government is busy in bringing down the morale of doctors.