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Murder of three students at medical college

Karachi, Sept 29: The murder of three medical students in August has been linked to the operation of unauthorized PCOs within the premises of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, hospital officials and investigators said on Monday. The deaths resulted from a series of scuffles which initially erupted on an argument over rates charged at a public call office (PCO) within JPMC premises. This led to the death of students, some of whom were deliberately targeted by activists of rival political groups.

Officials alleged that some of the PCOs were owned and run by certain activist students. It was their operation and scuffles over their operation that ultimately led to the murder of three medical students and injuries to several others on August 15 and 25 respectively.

"Though there could be many reasons behind the murders, we believe that bone of contention was the thriving business of phone booths and issues associated with this," one of the top officials of the city's biggest hospital said.

He said one student organisation was allegedly running phone booths for some years, even before the ready availability of mobile phones. It was at one of these booths that a scuffle broke out between the activists of the supposedly rival student groups.

As a first step, the JPMC administration has removed around 11-12 PCOs, which they claimed were being run illegally for the past several years. The JPMC administration took this step following the student clashes.

Another senior official claimed that there were reports that certain student activists used to take protection money from unauthorized businesses on the premises of the hospital.

The official said that removal of encroachments was a step at breaking this monopoly. Earlier, the administration had vacated the old hostel of what it called 'undesirable elements' that were residing there for many years.

The official said that certain persons had also encroached on land of the JPMC and the administration had decided to pursue the same before judicial forums.

Qamar Zaman, then SIO (Station Investigation Officer) of Saddar Town confirmed that a scuffle had erupted at the PCO inside the JPMC over charges of phone use, in which sticks were used, leading to the death of one young man. He claimed that it was a minor issue which led to the tragic death of three students one after the other.

One medical student was killed on August 15 inside the premises of the JPMC, triggering widespread violence. All out-patient departments and the emergency ward remained closed for several days as an uneasy calm prevailed at the hospital. When the situation was returning to normalcy, another bloody clash took place at the hospital premises that led to the death of another student and injuries to several others; one of them later succumbed to his injuries.

It also enhanced the sense of insecurity and anxiety among the doctors and other hospital staff.

Consequently, both the Dow Medical College and Sindh Medical College were also closed for several days. The boys' hostels were vacated from students and 'outsiders', causing inconvenience to genuine students, especially foreigners.

Subsequently, extra-ordinary security arrangements were made to provide security to the doctors and other staff, who were reluctant to rejoin their duties.

Since then, an APC (armoured personnel carrier) of Rangers had been deployed at the JPMC and Rangers also remain alert at the main gate of the newly-built emergency and accident ward of the JPMC to meet any eventuality. However, the death earlier this week of a senior doctor (box) has once again raised fears about the safety of staff and patients at the JPMC. The News
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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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