KARACHI - Police used water cannons and truncheons to break up an anti-government demonstration on Wednesday, wounding at least 47 protesters as scores of women and men paramedics demanding raise in salaries tried to enter into the Red Zone despite the near-certainty they would be attacked and their plight would go unheard, witnesses said.
The demonstrators - members of the All-Pakistan Nursing Association, Sindh Nursing Association and Young Nursing Association - were calling for increase in salaries as per the directives of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The protesting paramedics, who wanted to press for their demand, faced stiff resistance from law enforcers, when they marched towards the Chief Minister’s House from the Karachi Press Club (KPC). Not only water cannons, but batons and teargas shells were indiscriminately used to placate the protest of the women paramedics.
According to the witnesses, the police-paramedics clash left at least 47 protesters wounded.
Police officials claimed that they were forced to use force as the protesters entered into a quarrel with the law enforcers.
According to ASP Ali Atif of the Preedy Police Station, as many as 12 men and 20 women paramedics were taken into custody and released later when Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad and chief minister’s adviser Sharmila Farooqui intervened.
A Young Nursing Association leader said although the involvement of Ahmad and Farooqui were laudable, the demand of paramedical staff was remained unresolved. Iqbal Arain further said that the authorities had, after the protest on February 22, given assurances, but in vain. He said they had been protesting for the past four months for their just demand for raise in salaries.
Meanwhile, All-Pakistan Paramedical Staff Association Karachi chief Nazeer Abbasi announced that the nurses would stop work at outdoor patient departments (OPDs) and operation theatres of all public hospitals across the province.