LAHORE: Hundreds of students from various educational institutes of the city on Friday marched from Nasser Bagh to Charing Cross to demand restoration of student unions.
The students solidarity march was organised by the Progressive Students Collective (PSC) while other organisations including the Peoples Students Federation (PSF), the Baloch Council, the Pukhtun Council, the Seriaki Council and the Punjabi Council participated. Students from Gilgit and Hazara also participated.
Labourers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, civil society activists and political party’s representatives joined the students to express solidarity with them.
The Students Solidarity March 2021 kicked off from Istanbul Chowk (Nasser Bagh) and concluded at Charing Cross on The Mall. The students holding red flags, placards and banners inscribed with slogans in favour of restoration of student unions, reduction in fees and provision of missing facilities chanted slogans in unison with drumbeats and music to highlight their demands.
The students also demanded recovery of those picked from various universities including the University of Balochistan.
They recited revolutionary poems to highlight the injustices done to them and the girls spoke about the problems they face on campuses.
The students also condemned the eviction of their fellows from the hostels of the Punjab University and reiterated their resolve to continue their struggle for the restoration of student unions, representation of girl students on anti-harassment committees, reduction in fees, and provision of missing facilities in the educational institutions.
Punjab Haqooq-i-Khalq Movement general secretary Muzzamil Kakar said the students were not given any representation in decision-making on the campuses about their future. The situation, they said, was increasing their problems. He said the students from remote areas in Balochistan and Fata were facing problems and it was bringing bad name for the state.
“Most remote areas lack access to education and the students have to travel to big cities for education,’ he said.
PSC’s Muqadas Jarral said the students were facing problems such as hefty increase in fees and harassment. “Free education is the basic right of every citizen under the constitution but they are being deprived of it,” she said. She further said the students were protesting on the roads of the country to demand their rights but the state was not ready to implement its constitution/ agreement with citizens.
Senior journalist Munizae Jahangir lauded students for coming out on the streets to demand their rights despite pressure and oppression and said the ban on student unions was in contradiction with a call for ending the culture of dynastic politics in the country. “Those who talk against dynastic politics are the ones who ban student unions,” she pointed out.
HKM member Farooq Tariq said all the provincial governments despite making promises were not restoring student unions in institutions and were involved in enforced disappearance of young students on university campuses in Balochistan.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also issued a statement in support of the march.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021