Lahore (Nadia): Punjab University’s administration has once again deployed violent means to disrupt a peaceful procession by students. Students from across the campus organised a Students’ Rights March today from Sociology department to IER against unnecessary securitization and anti-student policies of the university. But irony just died when the same management brought in half a dozen guards to quash the demonstration.
The march was organised by Punjab University Students’ Federation. Members from Progressive Students’ Collective, Pashtun Educational Development Movement, Saraiki Council, Punjab Council and Baloch Council actively participated in the rally. The march peacefully made its way from Sociology department to the IER. Demonstrating students held placards in their hands with demands written on them. The marchers chanted progressive slogans while on the move.
The rally stopped in front of Faisal Auditorium where speeches were made by chairmans and presidents of respective organisations. Major demands of the protestors included strict action against perpetrators of violence involved in the 4th of Sep incidence, provision of quality meals and reduction of mess dues in female hostels, reinstatement of scholarships of sports students, investigation into fund embezzlement case in the Social Work department, an end to gun culture in the campus and the assurance of a detailed inquiry of those holding more than one management post in the university.
After the protest, students from diverse ethnic milieu joined in the traditional dances as a symbol of goodwill. Within minutes guards led by the chief security officer rushed in, attacking and verbally abusing the students. Sound system was forcefully closed down while guards engaged in fist fights with unarmed students.
Students have exclaimed that, this time again, instead of peacefully entering into a dialogue with the students and resolving their genuine issues, Punjab University’s management has unleashed violence against them. The administration, despite its 500 personal guards and generous expenditure on security apparatus, has not been successful in putting an end to illegal weaponry inside the campus. Unless the management is complicit in the whole affair and is deliberately sheltering a particular group, there is no way guns can make their way inside a parameter guarded by 500 men. The utility of such a force does not seem reasonable with this bad of a performance.
This terror machinery deployed under the Chief Security Officer and executive management of PU is a threat not only to our political rights but to our cultural freedom as well – President PSC-PU
President Progressive Students’ Collective Punjab University chapter, Haris Azad, has condemned the attack on unarmed students. ‘This is the true face of our regressive administration. The assault on unarmed students demanding their just rights is the lowest they could have stooped to. This terror machinery deployed under the Chief Security Officer and executive management of PU is a threat not only to our political rights but to our culture as well,’ he said. He further chastised the administration for not showing up to lend an ear to the grieving students but entering just in time to stop students of marginalised ethnicities from exercising their cultural right. ‘We stand with all students that have been denied their due rights. We demand immediate inquiry into the unfortunate incidence. We will continue protesting for our right to fair and quality education, unobstructed political and cultural expression and provision of timely justice.‘