LAHORE: Punjab Assembly premises turned into a battlefield when some teachers along with students from various government educational institutions transgressed into the assembly’s courtyard, protesting against the privatisation of educational institutions and the formation of the board of governors (BoG) in 26 colleges on Wednesday.
Protestors blocked the Mall, causing severe damage to vehicles. At least 40 teachers were arrested as well. The Joint Action Committee (JAC), Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA), activists of Islami Jamiat e Taliba (IJT) and students took part in the protest.
They demanded the government to revoke the decision of making BoG as they claimed that it would lead to privatisation and also demanded to localise the syllabus.
The students raised full-throated slogans in favour of their demands and against establishment of BoG, the Punjab government and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders.
Some of the protesting students said that IJT activists misguided them to participate in a protest, which was exclusively against the government’s proposed plan to abolish the blasphemy law, they found another protest against BoG being held.
Students were trying to enter the assembly premises, when police forced them outside. However, the students attempted to pull down the assembly gate, forcing the police to baton-charge them. Stones were thrown at the police, and a bus was set ablaze. They also damaged vehicles owned by the members of the provincial assembly including Zamurad Yasmin, Ijaz Kahlo and Arifa Khalid Pervez.
During all unrest and clashes, between the police and students, neither ruling and nor opposition members of Punjab Assembly bothered to step out from the assembly building to control the situation.
A teacher told Daily Times that the students wanted to be heard by the government, for the solution of their problems. He added that the legislators instead of resolving their issues and accepting demands had turned the peaceful demonstration into a battlefield. “We were protesting against the board of governors in public sector educational institutions and not upgrading the pay scales of college professors and lecturers.”
JAC Chairman and PPLA President Professor Dr Zahid Ahmad Sheikh said that they had staged a sit-in before the Punjab Assembly as a protest to force Punjab government to withdraw its notification of establishment of a board of governors in 26 public colleges of the province. He said that professors and lecturers from the entire province have participated in the sit-in, which would be fruitful for their struggle. However, hewas also arrested during the protest
The higher education department spokesman has advised the protesting teachers and students that they should take part in educational activities and perform their duties honestly by accepting the boards. PML-Q CEC member Mian Tahir Sadeeq condemned the torture and said his party supports their demands.