ISLAMABAD: Over a dozen protesters were arrested and scores of motorcycles impounded during a police action to disperse students staging a protest demanding online examinations at Faizabad on Saturday.
Officials of the capital administration and police said the SSC and HSC students from Rawalpindi and Islamabad in groups started gathering at Faizabad Bridge in the afternoon. Shortly, their number increased to 600 to 700 and the students blocked Islamabad Expressway.
The protesting students were demanding that their final exams should be held online. They chanted slogans against the government, the federal minister for education and other officers of the education department.
The students said their educational institutes remained closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, they added, online classes were conducted only for a short period. Under such a situation, the final exams should be taken online.
Senior officials from the administration and police started negotiations with the protesters.
The protestors told the administration officials that they should be allowed to march to the National Press Club (NPC) to hold a protest there. The administration agreed to allow them to move to the NPC but during the negotiations some of the protesters turned violent, claimed the officials.
These protesters started damaging private vehicles and also beat and injured the drivers of these vehicles.
In response, the police resorted to baton-charge to disperse the protesters.
However, the protesters retaliated and pelted the police with stones.
Shortly, the police started teargas shelling and succeeded to disperse the students. The police also took over a dozen protesters into custody.
Besides, scores of motorcycles found abandoned at the site were impounded, the officials said. Later, the arrested students along with the bikes were shifted to different police stations.
The officials said that during questioning those who were arrested failed to prove that they were students and enrolled in any educational institutes. They seemed to be miscreants and had joined the students’ protest to create law and order, the officials added.
A gridlock was witnessed on the expressway and other roads due to the protest by the students at Faizabad creating hardship for motorists.
“Due to the closure of Murree Road, I had to use the Raja Bazaar road passing from narrow streets but there was also a gridlock. It wasted my time and fuel,” said Naveed Ahmed, a motorist.
Mohammad Niaz, a resident of Double Road, said there were long queues of vehicles on the road. He said a majority of road users in the twin cities used Double Road in the afternoon while coming back from work.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2021