A year ago today on 11th of December, a large group of lawyers stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), beating up doctors and hospital staff as well as vandalising public property. The attack was a response to a video that had gone viral the previous day wherein a young doctor was seen ridiculing the lawyers over a petty dispute.
On November 24 2019, a lawyer named Azeem Sindhu had his mother admitted to the PIC. While his mother was being treated treated there, lawyers accused the PIC doctors of negligence and alleged that she was not given the right kind of treatment. Following this a small scuffle broke out between a group of lawyers and doctors in the hospital. Both lawyers and doctors lodged FIRs against each other after this.
The very next day after the scuffle, doctors held a protest against lawyers on Jail Road. A counter protest at the civil secretariat outside the office of the chief secretary was then held by lawyers.
On December 10, two PIC employees were arrested on the doctors’ complaint. The arrest led to another protest by doctors where the said provocative video was made. Finally, the lawyers expressed their anger by storming the emergency ward of the hospital on December 11.
At least nine patients were reported dead as a result of the violence at the government-run hospital in Lahore. Eye witness accounts recounted that lawyers actively attempted to cut off life support systems for patients and damaged hospital equipment. Riot police arrived at the premises and used tear gas to disperse the protesters. However, much of damage had been done before the police acted.
Later, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari announced that 40 lawyers have since been arrested by the police. Amongst the lawyers who took part in the protest was PM Imran Khan’s nephew, Hassan Niazi. He went underground along with 200 lawyers after protest and denied any involvement. He claimed that he was being framed due to his relation with PM Imran Khan. Police conducted two raids at his house and only a week after the protest, he was granted a pre-arrest bail from an anti-terrorism court.