Lahore (PU): The state-sponsored repression on display at Punjab University is a clear example of the heavy-handed and bigoted approach of the university administration towards students from historically marginalized nationalities — Progressive Students’ Collective
In a shocking display of violence and brute force, dozens of Baloch students were attacked by university administration guards while peacefully protesting outside the Vice Chancellor’s office at the Punjab University. The students were rallying against a recent incident in which the Director of Mountain Research Departmemt, who was reportedly under the influence of alcohol, physically assaulted a Baloch student.
According to eye-witnesses, the students were engaged in a peaceful demonstration, calling for accountability from the university administration, when the guards were deployed. Rather than engaging in dialogue with the students, the guards, heavily armed with rods and burning wood logs, unleashed a violent crackdown on the protestors, leaving dozens of students injured.
It is worth noting that this is not an isolated incident at the university, as students from historically marginalized regions have reported facing harassement and discrimination at various levels of university adminstration, from hostel allocation to fee issues and classroom discussions.
The Progressive Students Collective (PSC) has issued a strong condemnation of the university administration’s actions, describing the brutal crackdown as a “flagrant violation of the students’ right to peaceful assembly.” Ajeet Parsad, Incharge PSC Law Students’ Collective who was on the scene, decried the administration’s actions as a “shameful display of ethnic discrimination and bigotry” and a “blatant attempt to impose a single-nation agenda through the repression of minority students.”
In response to this unjust attack, the Punjab University Students’ Federation (PUSF) has announced a strike against this unfortunate incident, and students are currently sitting outside the Vice Chancellor’s office in peaceful protest against the administration-backed crackdown. They vow to continue their protest until justice is provided.
This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing issues of ethnic discrimination and marginalization faced by minority groups in Pakistan, particularly those from the Balochistan region.
PSC has called for immediate action to be taken against the guards responsible for the violence and for those in positions of power to be held accountable for their actions. PSC has also demanded that the university administration engage in meaningful dialogue with student representatives and ensure the safety and well-being of all students, regardless of their ethnic background. Furthermore, student representatives of PSC have also called upon human rights organizations to take notice of the incident and investigate the matter. It is high time for students to unite and resist against this discrimination and bigotry, and demand their right to education and dignity.