Students' parents file petition against police in LHC
The Lahore police have arrested and registered cases against five more students for protesting against on-campus examinations outside the University of Central Punjab on January 26.
The FIR was registered by the state at the Township police station. It read that the five suspects, identified as Zubair Siddiqui, Sanaullah, Ali Ashraf, Salman Sikander, and Haris Asad, incited students outside the varsity to resort to violence through hate speech.
A clash between students and security guards occurred during the protest. The students said that the guards attacked them with batons and bats but the management claimed that students started the fight by pelting stones at the guards.
The five students have been charged under Section 16 (Dissemination of rumours) of the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 and the following sections of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to Usama Khawer, who is representing the students in court, these students were picked up by the police unlawfully and presented before the court.
The police submitted a request for their 12-day physical remand but the court allowed a three-day remand. The suspects have been taken to the police station for further questioning.
On the other hand, parents of these five students filed a petition in the Lahore High Court claiming that the police detained them unlawfully and demanded that a case of wrongful confinement should be registered against them.
The court has summoned an answer from the police and has adjourned the hearing.
On January 28, the management registered a case against 500 university students for protesting outside the campus. Thirty-six young people were detained and remanded into police custody.
The FIR said that the administration requested the students to call off the protest. They were, however, incited by a man identified as Zubair Siddiqui. “The students damaged the property of the university and tried to break into its main gate,” it added.
According to Salman Sikander, the information secretary of the Progressive Students’ Collective, the students were called in for talks with the university management at 2pm.
At around noon, the university’s security guards closed the main gate. The students didn’t understand what was going on. They then opened the gates and we saw an entire army of guards coming out to baton-charge the students. “Some even pelted stones at the students, while others threw their batons.”
Sikander said the students responded to the attack.
On the other hand, the UCP management said the students weren’t allowed to enter the university over which they lost their cool, broke the main gate of the campus and pelted the guards with stones.
Many students were injured in the attack and were moved to Jinnah hospital.
Students across Pakistan have taken to the streets in protest of the universities’ decision of physical exams for fall semester 2020-2021.
They have demanded that their exams should be held online since their classes were online the entire semester. “The learning management system was not working most of the time and the quality of our classes was very bad,” one of the protesters complained.
The students have demanded that the exams should either be taken online or universities should postpone the finals.
“Give us classes on campus for two months and then take the exams,” they said, adding that otherwise, they will continue their protests. Following this, #StudentsWantOnlineExams started trending on Twitter.
Protests sprung up in other parts of the country such as Bahawalpur, Multan, and Dera Ghazi Khan as well. Following this, a number of varsities such as the University of Management and Technology and the University of Peshawar reverted their decision and postponed the exams.
The management of the universities had earlier said that as the government was reopening universities from February 1, they might as well take exams on campus.
Earlier this week, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the Higher Education Commission will consult with varsities on the matter but the final decision rests in the managements’ hands.
The HEC does not have any authority over the academic decisions made by the varsities, Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yasir told SAMAA TV. “The HEC only advises them when they consult the body.”
He condemned the action taken by the students. “This way anyone will come onto the streets and blackmail the authorities to make decisions in their favour.”
Yasir added that the varsities should talk to students and reach a decision that is acceptable to both the students and the management.