Restoration of students’ unions demanded

Published March 3, 2021
The hunger strikers hold up placards with their demands outside the KPC on Tuesday.—White Star
The hunger strikers hold up placards with their demands outside the KPC on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: On Monday morning a group of students representing the Sindh Students Council (SSC) began a 100-hour hunger strike (to conclude on March 4) outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) demanding restoration of students’ unions and hostels at educational institutions.

It is not a large bunch, as one would have expected it to be, but the enthusiasm with which they have set up the camp outside the club has garnered attention of the media. This is despite the fact that the spot where the protest is being held is often visited by larger groups which drown out voices of smaller gatherings.

The SSC is led by a young International Relations student at the University of Karachi, Ali Saqlain Chandio.

Talking to Dawn he said, “It’s a 100-hour hunger strike which is being undertaken with reference to March 4, 1967, known as the day of Sindh’s students’ struggle. Our basic demands are the restoration of unions at educational institutions, removal of security forces from the institutions, check on fake students’ domiciles in Sindh and provision of hostels [among others]. This is our Karachi protest. A similar protest is being held in Hyderabad.”

The young man who is in his final year at the university’s IR department said 10 to 12 of his fellow students were taking part in the token hunger strike outside the KPC and a slightly bigger number, 15 to 20, was doing the same in Hyderabad. On Wednesday they’re going for a protest march and many more will join hands with them.

Although the idea of restoration of unions has a national resonance, Chandio said it’s just the SSC which was pressing for it. However, he added, all student associations had expressed their support for their act of demonstration by coming to the club to meet with them. The 100-hour mark, the young man pointed out, is symbolic.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021

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