CHAKWAL: Even as cadet colleges in troubled areas like Wana and Miranshah are functioning, the Government Cadet College Choa Saidan Shah has been closed for the last five weeks due to security concerns.

A district police officer (DPO) said the college was closed because its boundary wall was not complete. The college’s closure has disrupted students’ schoolwork severely.

Established by the Punjab government in 2011, the college’s students have received excellent results in the Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education examinations. Last year, the college also got first position in the SSC exams.

The provincial government has called the college the best institution in the Rawalpindi Division, and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif awarded the college principal, Prof Raja Iftikhar Ahmed, a certificate of appreciation.

Choa Saidan Shah cadet college closed over security concerns due to incomplete boundary wall

The college currently has 350 cadets from various parts of the country, and 54 students from Balochistan and four from Fata are also enrolled at the college on a special quota.

“The college is the sole institution in the district with the best security arrangements,” an official said.

“There are 63 security guards, 74 CCTV cameras, 10 checkposts, 13 vantage points and other arrangements.” The college administration has also purchased five sniper rifles at the cost of Rs180,000 each.

Spread over 165 acres of hilly and rugged terrain, the college’s boundary wall has not been built according to the standard operating procedure (SOP).

Last year, the government released Rs50 million for the construction of the wall in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. However, the wall has not been completed so far.

The district administration also closed down the college in February over the same issue, but the college reopened a few days later. It was closed once again on April 10.

“The construction of the boundary wall is very difficult because the area is rocky,” said Inayat Hussain, the subdivisional officer at the building department. He said work on the boundary wall is in its final stages and should be completed within a day, while the installation of razor wire on the wall would take a few days.

The college’s five week closure has worried students’ parents. “I’m paying Rs20,000 monthly for my son, and to arrange such a heavy fee every month is a very different task. Now, when the date of examinations is approaching, the college has been sealed,” the father of one of the college’s students said.

“The state is punishing student and their parents for its own failure. Building the boundary wall and making other security arrangements is the responsibility of the state,” another parent said.

A senior official from the education department, requesting anonymity, said the closure of the cadet college could have been avoided.

Last Thursday, parents of three students filed an application with District and Sessions Judge Pervez Ismail Joiya against the closure of the institution. The judge ordered DPO Munir Masood Marath to look into the matter.

On Wednesday, the DPO said the college had been reopened. But the college principal, when contacted, said the institution remained sealed.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2016