LAHORE: The students belonging to erstwhile Fata ended their hunger strike outside the Governor House on Sunday after the authorities assured them of acceptance of their demands.

More than a dozen students had been holding the sit-in and a hunger strike camp on The Mall since March 6 to seek restoration of the admission quota in the public universities of Punjab.

Their charter of demands included implementation of Governor Chaudhry Sarwar’s orders of the continuation of scholarships for them till 2027, revival of four seats each in every department of the university, restoration of Frontier region scholarships quota and reallotment in hostels and also allotment for the students who could not avail the facility.

Get assurance for acceptance of their all demands

The demands also included removal of certain Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB) officials for instigating discrimination. They also sought reopening of hostels for Fata students to continue online classes and removal of videos on the Facebook page of the university promoting hate against Pashtuns and others. As the authorities did not pay attention to their demands, they started a hunger strike that went on for six days. Two of the students were admitted to hospital on Saturday due to the hunger strike of five days.

On Sunday, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi and MPA from Fata Naseer Ahmed held negotiations with the protestors at the Governor House for six hours.

The governor accepted all the demands of the students, including continuation of the scholarships till 2027 in various universities of the province.

Citing economic problems, Mr Sarwar said a mechanism would be devised for the scholarships in universities.

“The universities would bear 50pc cost of scholarships, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government 25pc and remaining 25pc by the Punjab government.”

He said 200 scholarships out of 1,000 annually would be given to girl students and Punjab University would set up a sub-campus in Fata and Government College University, Lahore in Gilgit.

Addressing the media, Mr Sarwar announced that according to the decision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Federal Cabinet, 1,000 students from Fata would be given 100pc scholarships in universities of Punjab every year till 2027.

He said a decision was also taken that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government would provide land in Fata and the PU would establish its sub-campus and as soon as its syndicate committee formally approved the decision, the work to set up the sub-campus would begin.

He said all measures would be taken to solve the problems faced by the Fata students in the hostels of the universities due to the coronavirus pandemic so that they could have access to the internet for online classes.

“I would also like to thank Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Deputy Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser for their support in resolving this issue,” he added.

Mr Afridi thanked the governor for resolving the problems of the students of Fata and announcing establishment of PU sub-campus.

Students Action Committee convener Muzzamil Khan told Dawn that the government had accepted all their demands, including increasing scholarships and allowing Fata students to live in the hostels during the pandemic and dropping disciplinary cases against them.

He said the governor had also assured to take action against the IUB officials involved in discrimination against Fata students and an inquiry committee would investigate the matter and fix the responsibility.

He said the students were ending their protest and hunger strike on the assurance of the governor and would wait for issuance of notification from him regarding the promises made during negotiations.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2021

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