Lahore                 -           On the call made by the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC), the lawyers community locked down the courts yesterday across the Punjab province.

The lockdown call was made after the expiration of their 48-hour ultimatum for the release of lawyers arrested in connection with the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) carnage.

A PbBC meeting held in the chair of Vice Chairman Shahnawaz Ismaeel made the decision after the lawyers arrested in the PIC attack case had not been released nor the section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) excluded from the FIRs.

As per the decision, lawyers led by their respective bar associations office-bearers, took out protest rallies and also stageed sit-ins for one hour across the province. 

Earlier, hundreds of black coats assembled at the Punjab Bar Council to attend a convention where prominent lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd delivered a speech. He warned that if the arrested lawyers were not released within 48 hours, the lawyers’ community would go to any extent. He said, “We do not want to turn the situation into chaos,”

Meanwhile, the PbBC vice chairman fired broadside at judges, saying: “The lawyers made sacrifices for the restoration of judiciary but when the lawyers needed their support, the judges played the role of traitors.”

The lawyers demand immediate action against the doctors whose instigation led to the occurrence of the unpleasant incident at the heart hospital.

The lawyers also demand the formation of a judicial commission comprised of Supreme Court judge to investigation the unpleasant incident.

They criticised the government for its failure to properly handle the situation, and said that its sluggishness caused the occurrence of an the incident.

Showing its anger earlier, the PbBC suspended the licences of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and provincial ministers Raja Basharat and Fayyazul Hassan Chohan for ‘disgracing’ lawyers on the PIC occurrence.

Amidst lockdown of court across the Punjab, an anti-terrorism court sent on Monday 24 lawyers accused of attacking the Punjab Institute of Cardiology to jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

Last Saturday, eight other lawyers had been released as prosecution could not prove they were involved in the incident.

The Punjab Bar Council has expressed concern over the delay in the release of the arrested lawyers following the PIC mayhem. They have also demanded the removal of Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act from the FIRs registered against the black coats.

On December 12, hundreds of protesting lawyers stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, assaulted staff and ransacked the building. Six critical patients reportedly expired on hospital beds as doctors and staff ran to safety during the assault.

Angry lawyers also assaulted provincial information minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan while protesting doctors roughed up provincial health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid as they reached the hospital to cool down the two sides. The protesting doctors also demanded the health minister to step down. Police fired tear-gas shells to disperse the lawyers who pelted the cops with stones. The lawyers went on the rampage, set a police van on fire, and also attacked media crews to stop coverage of their vandalism.

At least three patients died on hospital beds during the clashes, and many others suffered as the medical staff stopped performing their duties after the assault by the lawyers.