SUKKUR: Acting upon a distress call made by the Ghulam Mohammed Mahar Medical College principal, a strong contingent of police rescued him and several employees of the institution held hostage for a couple of hours by agitating students, some of whom thrashed the gardener and also broke down the door of the principal’s room on Thursday.

The students, who boycotted their classes, besieged the principal’s room and held a sit-in outside to force him to meet their demands, which included holding of annual function, organising a sight-seeing tour and other recreational activities, due facilities for students living in hostels etc. They told the media that the Rs11.5 million fund for extracurricular activities and more funds for essential facilities supposed to be provided to students, including those living in hostels, were not being spent for four years allegedly due to the principal’s stubborn attitude.

Mujeeb Chachar, Aftab Malik, Younus Solangi, Asad Cheema, Atiq Shahani, Shakeel Ahmed, Sajjad Ahmed Memon and others leading the agitating students claimed that the principal had not been responding to their repeated calls in this regard for a couple of years which compelled them to boycott the classes and hold the sit-in.

Claiming that even arrangements for drinking water and hygienic living conditions were not being made at the boys and girls hostels, they demanded removal of the principal in the interest of the college and its students.

While the sit-in was in progress, Principal Prof Dr Ghulam Hyder Rind tried to leave for home but some of the protesting students blocked his way and closed the main gate of the college. They raised slogans against him and forced him to go back to his room. Some employees of the college came forward to save him from harassment but this further provoked the students, one of whom manhandled the gardener, Wazir Ali Mirani.

Heated arguments between the protesters and college employees followed and the latter were herded into the principal’s room, which was then locked from inside.

The principal conveyed to the protesters that he was not going to bow to the pressure tactics and agitation resorted to by them. Enraged over his response, some of the students repeatedly kicked and broke down the door of his office.

A group of agitators away from the office caused suspension of the point buses operation so that no one could leave the college until the agitation was under way.

As the situation continued to grow tense, the college administration made a distress call to the Sukkur SSP who, along with a strong contingent, drove into the college and asked the agitators to disperse peacefully.

However, leaders of the protesters said they wanted to settle the matter through talks and the C-Section SHO Allauddin Phulpoto offered mediation. Vice Principal Aftab Soomro volunteered to advocate the principal, paving the way for a considerably long session that led to an agreement between the two sides.

The students finally withdrew from the protest venue allowing the principal and college employees to safely leave the campus.

Later, Principal Prof Dr Ghulam Hyder Rind told the media that the agitation was incited by some political figures who had constantly interfering in the affairs of the college and were bent upon undermining the academic atmosphere on the campus.

He noted that such political elements were using student leaders for their ulterior motives and creating problems in the smooth running of the college.

Regarding the agitating students’ genuine demands, Prof Rind said that a sight-seeing tour to the Naran and Kaghan areas for the entitled students was already planned and would sure be organised as was desired by them.

He said proper water and other basic facilities were available to the students living in hostels and would be improved further. Likewise, he added, the annual function and a farewell party would also be held before the end of the current year subject to the release of funds by the competent authorities.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2016