Young Doctors Association (YDA) and paramedical staff in Quetta began a peaceful protest from Civil Hospital, representing the lack of protective gear and equipment in provincial hospitals during the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
Balochistan Police arrested over a dozen doctors protesting, after violently charging them with their batons and forcing them into police vans.
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 today,” he said. However he denied allegations of police physically assaulting the protesting doctors but added that “a scuffle broke out after the medics tried to cross barricades near the Red Zone”.
However, a video is circulating on social media, proving otherwise:
— Asim Ahmed khan (@AsimKhanjourno) April 6, 2020
YDA Balochistan President Yasir Achakzai confirmed 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.
The YDA chief has now 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.
The protesting doctors have been shifted to various police stations in Quetta.
Following the incident, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan announced through twitter that he met YDA doctors and assured them of his government’s full cooperation in their battle against Covid-19 and in meeting their demands:
I personally gave a sitting and met YDA doctors…and assured we shall solve their contract employees issue, new posts advertized and rest..and assured we are serious in solving rest matters.
But, its inappropriate to lock MS offices and put locks on them. pic.twitter.com/pVRflLQRf0
— Jam Kamal Khan (@jam_kamal) April 6, 2020
We hope the situation is resolved and an incident of outright violence against a peaceful protest is never repeated. One can always dream.