Battlefield sights as police hold crackdown against dengue workers


–Dozens injured, arrested in use of force against protesters on Cooper Road

–Tear gas, water cannons used to disperse protesters aiming to besiege PA building


LAHORE: Provincial capital’s Cooper Road on Thursday became a battlefield as the police and Anti-Riot Force (ARF) fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse the protesting dengue workers when they started to head towards the Punjab Assembly with intentions of holding a demonstration.

As per the details, hundreds of dengue workers that also included a large number of female workers had been staging a sit-in at the office of the Health director general (DG) for past nine days demanding their regularisation. On Thursday, as soon as the session of Punjab Assembly started, a large number of protesters started marching towards the assembly building in order to hold a demonstration outside the assembly that is adjacent to the DG’s office. It was then that a large number of police officials deputed for the security of the assembly started firing tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Following the tear gas attack, the protesters set ablaze the barriers and security equipment of the police officials to mitigate the irritating impact of the tear gas. The protesters also pelted stones at the police officials while injuring three of them who were given first aid on the spot by the Rescue 1122 officials. The officials of ARF had to use water cannons as well because the protesters refused to budge and continued their march towards the Punjab Assembly building. Both the protesters and police officials got injured during the scuffle while many female dengue workers also fell unconscious due to the tear gas. The police officials were of the view that male dengue workers had used female workers as a shield to besiege the assembly building but timely action thwarted the move as assembly session was in progress at that time.

Nabila, a dengue worker and resident of Baghbanpura, told this scribe that all of them had worked tirelessly to eradicate the menace of dengue from the province, but the government was rewarding them by using force against unarmed dengue workers. “We were holding a peaceful protest in the office of Health DG for over a week now but both the Health DG and CEO started issuing show-cause notices to our colleagues that prompted us to agitate and therefore we tried to hold a demonstration outside the Punjab Assembly,” she said while also threatening to lock-jam the whole province if the government didn’t release the arrested dengue workers.

It is worth mentioning here that the police arrested over two dozens of dengue workers including women and they were shifted to different police stations of the city. Female dengue workers including Zaibun Nisa, Nabila Bibi, Naureen, Shamsa Kanwal, Zainab Tariq, Amina Mushtaq, Arooj Fatima, Samina Shehzadi, Tehzeeb Zahra, Atiya, Faiza Rasheed, Ayesha Nazir, Aroosa Ijaz, Afsheen Saleem, Aqsa Idrees and Rehmana Rauf were shifted to the Lytton Road Women Police Station while the male dengue workers were shifted to Qila Gujjar Singh and Garhi Shahu police stations.

Traffic remained suspended on Cooper Road while a massive traffic jam could be seen on adjacent arteries as well due to the clash as it took place during peak hours of traffic. Several commuters were found complaining against the use of tear gas as its impact was felt in half a kilometre radius from the battlefield.