Official says there’s a ban on gatherings in the city
Police have arrested over two dozen students in Quetta after they attempted to reach the chief minister’s residence, demanding access to the internet.
The students have been staging a demonstration in Quetta for the past few weeks under the banner of Baloch Students Committee. They are protesting online classes in universities across the province.
Mahrang Baloch, an activist and student leader, was also among the arrested students. “I am arrested along with other peaceful students,” she said in a video on Twitter a few hours ago. “We were protesting online classes.”
Zamin Hussain Zaman, a police officer at Quetta’s Civil Lines police station, told SAMAA TV the students attempted to hold a rally in the city when there is a ban in place on all kinds of gatherings. The arrested students were shifted to different police stations, he said.
The Balochistan government closed all educational institutions in the province in March after a spike in coronavirus cases. The educational institutions had announced that they would be conducting online classes during this period.
The protesters, however, said that there are some areas in Balochistan where the students don’t even have access to the internet.
Rights activists have condemned the arrest of students in Quetta and demanded their release. “We demand Jam Kamal immediately orders the release of all leaders of [the] Student Action Committee,” Jalila Haider, a rights activist in Quetta, said in a tweet.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the leader of the PPP, also condemned the arrest of students. “To protest peacefully is a constitutionally protected right,” he said on Twitter.
The Amnesty International has also asked authorities in Quetta to release the students.
“Pakistan’s authorities must immediately release all students detained in Quetta who were demanding internet access to continue their studies,” it said in a tweet.
“Their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be respected and protected.”