Peshawar police baton-charge, arrest protesting schoolteachers

Published October 7, 2022
Protesting teachers cover their faces during tear gas shelling by police near the provincial assembly building in Peshawar on Thursday. (Inset) A policeman fires tear gas canisters. — White Star
Protesting teachers cover their faces during tear gas shelling by police near the provincial assembly building in Peshawar on Thursday. (Inset) A policeman fires tear gas canisters. — White Star

PESHAWAR: The police arrested dozens of schoolteachers after resorting to baton-charge and tear gas firing to disperse their rally staged here on Thursday to demand upgradation of their pay scales and restoration of allowances.

Protesting the police’s action, the Primary School Teachers’ Association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, announced the closure of all government primary schools in the province from today (Friday).

The teachers closed around 15,000 government primary schools for boys across the province in the day to join the Peshawar rally on the call of their association.

Thousands of teachers showed up outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and blocked the Khyber Road to traffic causing snarl-ups on the city’s major arteries.

Teachers body announces closure of primary schools from today; CM aide regrets police action

The police baton-charged protesters and fired tear gas on them to ensure their dispersal. The action injured many teachers, who were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, whose doctors provided them with first aid.

The police also arrested dozens of teachers. They, however, didn’t register FIRs against them until night.

The teachers responded to the tear gas shelling by throwing those shells and stones at police.

The stones injured six police men and damaged some media vehicles, according to a statement issued by the city police.

The police said the injured officials, including SSP (operation) Kashif Aftab Abbasi, were shifted to the hospital for medical aid.

“We also took dozens of protesting teachers into custody.We will take further action against them after checking their particulars,” the police said in the statement.

President of the All Primary Schools Teachers Association Azizullah Khan told Dawn that following the police action, the teachers would continue with the protest until their demands were met.

He claimed that the police fired all tear gas shells on ‘peaceful’ teachers.

“From tomorrow, all government primary schools will be closed,” he said.

Mr Khan said that the association had long been demanding the recruitment of primary schoolteacher to BPS-14 in government primary schools instead of BPS-12.

He also said the schoolteachers demanded the upgradation of their pay scales and the immediate withdrawal of pension reforms insisting those reforms significantly reduced payments after retirement.

“On the pretext of pension reforms, the provincial government has cut down several allowances from the pension, which we were previously entitled to,” he said.

Elementary and secondary education minister Shehram Tarakai was not available for comments.

However, special assistant to the chief minister on information Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said in a video message that the police action against teachers should have been avoided. “Whatever happened is regrettable,” he said.

On the daylong clashes between teachers and police in the provincial capital, the aide to the chief minister said that the police informed the government that they had begun firing tear gas on protesters when several of the police officials suffered injuries as result of stones pelted by teachers at them.

He further said that the schoolteachers had denied the police’s claim saying the police first beating up teachers before firing tear gas at them.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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