It is a matter of great concern and alarm that lately there have been increased number of incidents of violence at health institutions and other sensitive public places in Lahore, Rawalpindi and other parts of the Province resulting in heavy loss of precious human lives. It is quite commendable indeed that the Punjab Government has take due cognisance of these violent incidents and has not wasted a moment in affecting necessary amendments in the Public Order Ordinance 1960.
An amending bill in this regard was moved and passed by the Punjab Assembly during its recent session, which prohibits entry of armed persons from entering health institutions like hospitals and sensitive public places. The amending law accordingly prohibits entry of armed persons into health facility institutions and sensitive public places where public generally gathers for any social, economic, religious, recreational or political activities and also includes all government offices and buildings, educational institutions, hospitals and other medical institutions, courts, places of worship, recreational and amusement places and other public places throughout the Province duly notified by the Provincial Government. Offence under this law has been made cognisable and non-bailable and the offender will be liable to punishment on summary trial of imprisonment of not less than seven days extendable to one year and fine of not less than Rs 25 thousand and not exceeding Rs 200 thousand.
This is quite an appreciable step undertaken by the Punjab Government in view of the prevailing circumstances. But at the same it is suggested that the amending law should be given wide publicity by all means, the substance and objectives of the amended law should be prominently displayed at all such places where entry of the armed persons has been prohibited and punishment for contravention of the provisions of the so amended law be extended both in terms of imprisonment and fine. Armed persons venturing into the prohibited places obviously do so with some evil intentions, as has been reported in the media from time to time.
The fine and punishment provided for in the amended law, is too meagre and need to be further enhanced. However, the more important need in this regard is that the punishment, whatever, be implemented and no body, whosoever he / she may be, should not be spared or exempted. The offenders should be given more exemplary punishment without showing any mercy or leniency, for ensuring better and improved law and order and safety of the people at large.