QUETTA: Due to threats and intimidation, all private educational institutions have remained closed for the past eight days in Balochistan’s southern district of Panjgur.

The private schools were shut down on May 7 earlier this month in the aftermath of threats by a shadowy militant organisation, Tanzeem ul Islami ul Furqan.

The newly surfaced militant organisation threatened to target private educational institutions, especially the English Learning Centers imparting co-education in Panjgur.

Haji Islam Baloch, a legislator from the ruling National Party, said that under a pre-planned conspiracy, children of Panjgur were being deprived of education.

“They are destroying the future of our young generation,” Baloch lamented on Wednesday during the session of the Balochistan Assembly.

Thousands of political workers, parents and students marched on the roads of Panjgur to protest against the closure of privately-run co-educational institutions and 23 English Learning Centers.

On May 7, unknown masked assailants barged into one center and threatened the teachers and students that learning English was forbidden under Sharia law, one of the instructors who requested anonymity, told Dawn.com.

This forced the administrations of the institutions to suspend their studies for an indefinite period.

Police have lodged an FIR against unknown militants on the application of school administration and teachers.

“Getting an education is not a sin, why are the doors of schools being closed for our children,” said NP legislator, Islam Baloch.

Armed militants also torched a van which was earlier bringing children to schools in Panjgur.

“The militants fled after the incident and fortunately there were no fatalities,” Murad Baloch, a police officer said.

This incident caused panic among the already disturbed parents and students in the area.

Police and personnel of Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force, were quick at the scene.

“We strongly condemn fanaticism and stand for a tolerant society,” Latif Baloch, an office bearer of the Panjgur Private Schools Association told protesters the other day.

The protesters demanded that the government provide security for male and female students studying in educational institutions.

Despite repeated calls, the girls and boys refused to speak to Dawn.com due to personal safety.

“For the first time, we heard about this militant organisation,” a police officer, who declined to be named, told Dawn.com.

Panjgur is located in Balochistan’s southern Mekran belt bordering with Iran.

Mekran is considered to be the intellectual capital of Balochistan, plagued by an insurgency and violent attacks by militants for more than a decade.

Panjgur is considered to be one of the most sensitive districts of Balochistan.

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