LAHORE: Fifteen students of the Government College for Boys, Gulberg, who were taken into custody on Thursday for holding a demonstration against closure of the college hostel since Eid were released after a protest by their fellows the same day.
The arrests led to a students’ protest at Kalma Chowk and metrobus track.
Earlier in the day, a large number of students from Gilgit-Baltistan and members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) held a protest outside the residence of the college principal on the premises of the institute. The students from different colleges of the city gathered outside the house of the principal and started chanting slogans to demand reopening of the hostel.
The college administration had closed the hostel before Eidul Fitr.
One of the students, Mustafa, told Dawn that the college administration had closed the hostel where he and his other fellows from Gilgit-Baltistan were residing before Eidul Fitr.
“The government had announced six holidays for Eid. It was difficult for us to go to our native towns in Hunza and Gilgit and we had decided not to go home on Eid.”
Mustafa claimed around 25 to 30 students, belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan, were residing in the hostel before Eid when the administration called police who broke into their rooms and kicked them out of the hostel. He said they had to spend a night in the open and later managed to get another residence.
Mustafa added that they were not allowed to live in the hostel after the Eid vacations when they went to the hostel, they found it sealed. He said they were protesting outside the principal’s office when Gulberg police tortured them and took away their 15 fellows. He alleged that the college administration had a plan to turn the hostel into a hotel.
After they held a protest on Thursday, the college administration called police who arrested 15 students on charge of breaking into the hostel and pelting the principal’s house with stones.
After the police action, the students gave a protest call against the arrest of their fellows and hundreds of them reached the Kalma Chowk at around 3pm and blocked it for all types of traffic. The students also blocked the metro bus service and held a sit-in on the bus track demanding the release of their fellows. Later, in the evening police released the arrested students and the students ended their protest demonstration.
IJT Nazim Hassan Younis told the media that they were arrested and tortured on the directions of the college administration. He said they were demanding reopening of the hostel and they would not allow the college administration to turn the hostel into a hotel.
Dr Arif Mehmood, the principal of the college, told Dawn the action was taken against the outsiders living in the hostel. He said most of the students who were residing in the hostel had completed their degrees but they were not leaving the facility for the genuine students of the college. He said most of these students belonged to the IJT who were issuing threats to the administration.
“Police were called as the students had started pelting his residence with stones in the college and also broken the doors of the rooms of the hostel, which were sealed for outsiders.”
Mr Mehmood added that the government was not giving any funds to run the hostel and they had to charge the students to run the affairs of this hostel.
“Most of the former students who were illegally living in the hostel were not paying the bills and the administration was not able to pay the electricity bills of the hostel,” he alleged.
The college principal rejected the allegations that the hostel was being turned into a hotel, saying that in the past the sports board had tried to encroach upon the land of the college but the college administration did not allow it to do so.
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2022