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Another student falls in JPMC clash

KARACHI, Aug 26: Another worker of the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) was killed and four others were injured on Saturday on the premises of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in a fresh clash between rival student groups that also left three workers of the Punjabi Students' Association (PSA) injured.

Farhan Butt, a first-year student at the JPMC's School of Physiotherapy, was the second IJT worker to be killed in the past 10 days in showdowns between the IJT and the PSA. Vehicles were stuck for hours in long traffic jams as angry students blocked Rafiqui Shaheedi Road in front of the JPMC, forcing hundreds of patients to return home without medical treatment.

Eyewitnesses said that at about 10:30am, some IJT workers were near the Kidney Centre when armed men appeared from the main gate, opened fire and swiftly fled. They said that an IJT worker received bullet wounds and was rushed to the hospital's emergency room. Police and Rangers personnel fired tear gas shells to disperse the rioters.

Dr Simeen Jamali, in charge of the JPMC emergency section, said that Mr Butt received a fatal bullet wound in his chest and died 15 minutes after being brought in.

According to IJT Central Information Secretary Riaz Ahmed Siddiqui, between 50 and 60 PSA workers reached the JMPC in two buses and riding eight to nine motorcycles. "They attacked our workers in the presence of police and Rangers," he claimed, adding that police high-ups had been informed about PSA workers gathering near the Cantonment Railway Station before they attacked the IJT workers, but the official had said that he was "unable to take any action against them." Mr Ahmed said that IJT workers Javed Iqbal, Sardar Wajid, Faisal Azeem and Ahmed were also injured when PSA members attacked them with stones, clubs and rods.

Saddar SHO Naeem Khan said that tension had been high at the JPMC since IJT nazim Hafiz Abdur Rehman had been beaten to death there on Aug 15, allegedly by activists of the PSA. Subsequently, a unit of the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) took control of security at the Dow University of Health Sciences and the Sindh Medical College. He added that many PSA students had not been coming to the JPMC since then because of the bands of rivals roaming about.

"Today, some PSA workers were attacked and forced to run away in the morning," he said. "Later, PSA workers returned to the JPMC with several of their fellows and clashed with IJT workers."

After the incident, police rushed to the spot and "the situation was brought under control within half an hour," said the SHO, adding that no FIR had so far been registered by either party.

However, Saddar SP Tahir Naveed said that "the clash started when workers of the PSA attempted to enter the JPMC where their rivals had already taken up position. The PSA men took up positions near the Kidney Centre when IJT workers started firing from JPMC."

PSA sources said that three of their activists were injured in the clash, two of whom received bullet wounds. Adil and Yasir, they said, were admitted to the Civil Hospital Karachi.

Nineteen-year-old Butt belonged to the Kotli district in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, from where he had recently moved to Karachi to start a four-year course as a physiotherapist. He lived in a dormitory-like space in Mehmoodabad with some friends and colleagues, and JPMC authorities have reportedly informed his family.

Meanwhile, the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) announced on Saturday that the Sindh Medical College and Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad Institute of Oral Health Sciences would remain closed till Aug 30, adds APP.

Doctors demand protection

Doctors and paramedics at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) believe that the reoccurrence within 10 days of a security situation at the hospital, run by the federal government, indicates the law enforcement agencies' failure to act on time. The Pakistan Medical Association has demanded a judicial inquiry.

After the clash, the hospital's work remained at standstill and tear gas remnants disturbed patients and staffers. It is difficult to predict when things will normalise. "Activities at the casualty section have been restored somehow," said a doctor, "but patients in various wards are bound to suffer while scared staff members gather the courage to return to their jobs."

Although there has been is no official decision about the OPDs' functioning on Monday, chances are that patients will themselves stay away.

Secretary General of PMA central, Dr Aziz Soomro, and Dr Qaiser Sajjad, president of PMA Karachi, expressed concern over the violence and demanded that the government ensure protection. Dawn
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