Agitation against on-campus exams: Many students injured in Lahore as varsity guards mount baton-charge assault
LAHORE: The province-wide protests by students against on-campus examinations on Tuesday took an ugly turn as several students were baton-charged and injured by the security guards of a private university in the provincial capital.
The students – two of them said to be critical – were hospitalised.
Hundreds of students of various educational institutes of the city under the slogans of “Justice for the Students” had been protesting for the last two weeks against the decision to conduct on-campus examinations.
On Tuesday, the students were chanting slogans against the varsity’s administration and trying to enter the University of Central Punjab (UCP) from the main gate to hold a sit-in outside the vice chancellor’s office. The security guards armed with batons opened the gate and attacked the students. The students rushed to save themselves and five of them suffered head injuries. The injured were identified as Progressive Students Collective (PSC) president Zubair Siddiqi, general secretary Ali Aftab, Abdullah, Arslan and Shah Jahan.
Rescue 1122 ambulances shifted the injured to the Jinnah Hospital where the condition of two students was said to be critical.
The anguished students later extended their protest and blocked Jinnah Road in Johar Town for several hours.
One of the injured students, Aftab told Dawn that they would continue the protest till the acceptance of their demand. He said the students had been receiving threats of dire consequences from the administration of the university.
“We are demanding online examinations and the administrations of the universities are not caring about our lives,” he said.
The UCP spokesperson told Dawn that the university was only following the Higher Education Commission’s directions to hold on-campus examinations. She said the protesting students did not belong to their university and a group of students from other universities was holding these protests. She said the students had attacked the guards to enter university and injured them.
Two days ago, the University of Management and Technology (UMT) had issued a directive of holding online examinations after the protest of the students.
Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood tweeted that “This is a decision for the universities to make, but I have asked HEC to consult VCs and see if it is possible given special circumstances this year.”
Meanwhile, the students all over the country took to Twitter to demand online exams under the hashtag of #StudentsKoInsafDo, #StudentsRejectPhysicalExams and #StudentsWantOlineExams. The campaign has also been making waves on social media.
A heavy police contingent reached the scene to hold negotiation with the students and the university administration. The students dispersed but vowed to continue their protest.
The students also held protests in other cities including Multan, DG Khan and Faisalabad. In Faisalabad, police baton-charged and injured some of the students of the NFC Institute of Engineering and Fertilizer Research when they blocked Tezab Mill Chowk.
In Multan, the students blocked the main Bosan Road and said that just as their classes were held online, their exams should also be held online because of coronavirus threat.
A group of students blocked inter-provincial traffic on Sangam Chowk of Dera Ghazi Khan and staged a sit-in in front of the vice chancellor house of Ghazi University on the second day of their protest.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021