Police use water cannon, tear gas to stop headmasters’ march on CM House in Karachi

Updated September 16, 2019

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Police use a water cannon and baton charge against the  protesting headmasters to prevent them from marching on Chief Minister  House on Sunday. — Online / White Star
Police use a water cannon and baton charge against the protesting headmasters to prevent them from marching on Chief Minister House on Sunday. — Online / White Star

KARACHI: Police on Sunday used a water cannon, tear gas and baton charge to stop protesting school headmasters from moving towards Chief Minister House, said officials and witnesses.

Around 450 headmasters, including 100 women, arrived at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday morning where they held a demonstration demanding regularisation of their services.

The protesting headmasters contended that hundreds of teachers had been recruited after they passed a mandatory test conducted by IBA Sukkur around three years ago. They performed their services for two years and later on, the government extended their contracts for one more year, but their services were not being regularised or confirmed.

Protesters disperse after assurances, to meet education secretary today

A police source told Dawn that representatives of the Central Working Committee of IBA-passed Headmasters Sindh — Zakir Husain Gopang, Haji Khan Rajpar and Farooq Azam Lakho — had submitted an application before deputy commissioner (South) Syed Salahuddin stating that they wanted to hold a ‘peaceful’ demonstration outside the KPC to press for the acceptance of their demands.

They were allowed as protests/rallies are not banned outside the KPC, which is the main venue of such activities.

The protesters stayed there for several hours. However, at around 3pm, the headmasters announced that they would go to Chief Minister House for staging a protest.

The police official said that they warned the teachers not to move further as Section 144 of the criminal procedure code had been imposed in ‘red zone’ besides it being a violation of their agreement that they would restrict their protest to the outside of the KPC.

The police said that the protesters did not pay heed to such warnings and started to move towards CM House, upon which the law enforcers used a water cannon, tear gas and baton charge.

The headmasters allegedly pelted the police with plastic water bottles and stones.

“The police resorted to baton charge and used water cannon to disperse them,” said South SSP Sheeraz Nazeer.

The senior officer added that the police also detained ‘some headmasters’.

The officer claimed that only one ‘headmaster’ was injured, but when the police tried to take him to hospital in an ambulance for treatment, the other teachers put up resistance.

A police source told Dawn that 19 headmasters had been detained.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, told Dawn that they received five teachers for treatment at its emergency department.

One of them sustained head injuries, but no one of them received any serious injury.

The injured were identified as Saqib, 35, Sajid Rao, 42, Mohammed Yunus, 34, Azfar Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam Nabi, 36.

After the police action, the protesting teachers staged a sit-in on Maulana Deen Mohammed Wafai Road at the main gate of the YMCA ground. As a result, vehicular traffic was diverted to the adjoining roads.

Talks held

Later in the night, protesters dispersed after successful talks with district South administration and police, said South SSP Sheeraz Nazeer.

It was agreed between the protesters and the officials that a meeting of teachers would be arranged with the secretary of education on Monday for the acceptance of their demands. After the talks, all held teachers were released, added the senior officer.

The road blocked by the sit-in was also vacated and opened to traffic.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019