Protesting medics, thrashed, tortured for pressing for risk allowance

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Police baton charge, beat up protesting paramedics as they sought to march towards PM Secretariat

The police on Tuesday brutally tortured and baton-charged the protesting doctors and paramedics staff as they marched towards the Prime Minister Secretariat for pressing their demands regarding health risk allowance.

Peaceful protests by employees of the Outdoor Patient Departments (OPDs) of all government hospitals in the federal capital turned violent when the capital territory police started using force on the order of additional deputy commissioner Islamabad after the protestors tried to march toward the Prime Minister Secretariat against the freezing of their health risk allowance.

At least twenty two doctors and paramedical staff of various hospitals sustained injuries while 12 others were arrested as space in front of the Secretariat presented scene of a battle. Pakistan Toady learned from the polyclinic spokesperson that the doctors and the paramedical staff were later released.

On Tuesday, some medics attempted to cross the barbed wire. But the police foiled all such attempts. Women police constables were seen dragging several female protestors as they barred them from entering the prohibited premises.

As a result of the protest, OPDs in major hospitals of the federal capital remained closed causing difficulties for patients.

Doctors from various hospitals of the capital have lodged protests against the freezing of their health risk allowance several times during the recent weeks. Earlier on August 20, they attempted to march towards the prime minister’s secretariat but their attempts were thwarted by the local administration which stopped them near Melody. Last week they again threatened protest in front of the Prime Minister Secretariat if their health risk allowance was not unfrozen.

The health risk allowance was approved by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in 2012 after prolonged protests by the doctors, but it was frozen by the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. Finance Division issued a notice on July 7, under which the employees of the federal hospitals stopped receiving health-risk allowance from July 30.

Protesting doctors and paramedical staff said they would continue their strike until their demand of the health risk allowance being unfrozen was met.

In latest developments, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the protests and directed the departments concerned to resolve the issue. Capital Administration and Development Division and other concerned departments held negotiations with the paramedics’ representative to reach an agreement.