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GUJRAT: The managements of public as well as private educational institutions have complained of an unprecedented hike in the prices of security gadgets such as metal detectors, walk-through gates and barbed wire, following the government’s strict directions for beefing up security of their campuses.

The private schools owners are also finding it hard to enhance the number of armed security guards at their campuses and arm the existing ones because of a ban on the issuance of weapons’ licences.

These issues were raised at an interactive session participated by officials of district administration, police, lawmakers and representatives of public and private educational institutes, held here at the District Council Hall on Thursday.

A participant in the meeting raised the issue of increase in the rates of security gadgets, saying the price of a metal detector which was earlier available for Rs650 only had jumped to Rs3,000 after the government made it binding for educational institute to have the gadget. Similarly, he said, the prices of walk-through gates and barbed wires had shot through the roof, seeking a regulatory role by the government.

Mian Abdul Shakoor, the director of a private school which was among the “most sensitive” institutions of the total 19 “A+ category” schools in the district, said private institutions were ready to hire the services of security guards but arming them was an issue because of the ban on issuance of weapons’ licenses.

“As private institutions are closed since start of winter vacation around three weeks ago the managements of many institutions could not collect the monthly fee from students and are now finding it hard even to pay salary to their staff due to their limited resources” he said and added that the government should have considered such issues before pressurising them for taking comprehensive security measures, which of course required funds. He suggested that the issue of arming the guards could be resolved by allowing licenses to the institutions on a priority.

Responding to Mr Shakoor, District Police Officer Rai Ijaz Ahmed said he would issue immediate directions to the concerned station house officers in the district to issue written permits to the managements of the institutions located in their jurisdiction for possession of least a repeater gun for each security guard till the issuance of arm license to them by the government.

District Coordination Officer Liaqat Ali Chattha told the managements of such institutions to collect application forms for acquiring licenses from his office at the earliest so that they could be accommodated as soon as the ban was lifted.

He said the district administration could seek philanthropists’ help for funding security measures like raising boundary walls of schools and buying gadgets.

The ruling party lawmakers present in the meeting jointly announced they would bring the issues raised by the managements of these institutions in the notice of Punjab chief minister.

Earlier, District Officer (Coordination) Shuja Qutab Bhatti briefed the meeting participants on the security arrangement so far made in the public as well as private institutions in the district.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2015

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