Injuries reported as police allegedly baton-charge students protesting on-campus exams in Lahore

Published January 25, 2021
Students of various universities continue their protest for cancellation of examination on campuses in Lahore on Friday. — White Star/File
Students of various universities continue their protest for cancellation of examination on campuses in Lahore on Friday. — White Star/File

Multiple injuries were reported after the Punjab Police on Monday allegedly baton-charged students protesting against on-campus exams in Lahore.

According to the Progressive Students' Collective (PSC), its Lahore president Zubair Siddiqui, who was leading the protest, was arrested by police from the University of Management and Technology (UMT).

The PSC later tweeted that Zubair and some other students were "critically injured and have been taken to ICU (intensive care unit)" after they were allegedly baton-charged by police.

It added that students were gathering outside UMT to protest against "gunda gardi (thuggery) of Punjab Police which baton-charged students".

For their part, police denied reports of baton-charge. Saddar Division SP (Operations) Hafeezur Rehman Bugti told Dawn.com that police "have not tortured [any students], and will not torture".

He added that no first information report (FIR) has been registered and police have asked the protesting students to hold negotiations with the university administration.

The official also said that nobody was arrested.

A spokesperson for UMT said that the university was "bound to follow directions given by the HEC (Higher Education Commission)". He said that the university had held online exams in the past and would continue to follow government and HEC guidelines related to exams and classes.

Meanwhile, activist Ammar Ali Jan strongly condemned the incident, saying that the government had "crossed all limits".

"For over a year, this fascist regime has threatened, arrested and registered FIRs against students. But today, it has crossed all limits by brutally attacking peaceful protesters on the streets," he tweeted.

"[Government] will now face the full power of the student movement."

The protest is still ongoing.

Protest outside Governor's House

On Friday, a number of students of various public and private universities had protested outside the Governor's House to demand cancellation of physical examinations. Hundreds of students had also protested outside Aiwan-i-Iqbal last week against universities' policies.

The protesting students said the universities had conducted online classes due to closure of educational institutes because of the coronavirus pandemic. They said the universities also had not completed the syllabus of their different courses but now the institute’s administrations were pressing for exams.

They said the institutes had closed their hostels and the students of other cities did not have any place to live and questioned how they could prepare and appear in examinations in the prevailing circumstances. While commenting on the fees issue, the students said that private institutes had charged thousands of rupees as fees and had not completed the syllabi. They demanded that the universities be stopped from charging further fees and they did not have the capacity to pay it.

The students later handed over their demands to the Governor's House employees on their assurance to cancel the physical examinations.

Earlier that day, a heavy police contingent reached and threatened the students to end the protest otherwise cases under terrorism charges would be registered against them.

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