LAHORE, Nov 15: A large number of Punjab University students on Thursday held a protest demonstration against Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) for its manhandling of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan.
The event was unprecedented in the history of campuses in Punjab, which have been under the Jamiat’s rule for decades.
Some 3,000 students, including girls, chanted slogans against IJT for over two-and-a-half hours. They started off from the University Law College and marched to all academic departments on the New Campus of the Punjab University as well as through hostel areas. They also held a massive demonstration in front of the vice-chancellor’s office.
The protesters included a number of students who resigned from the IJT following its action against Imran Khan on Wednesday on the university campus. The students were carrying placards bearing slogans: “We, PU Law College students, resign en mass from IJT membership” and “Go Jamiat Go”. They also tore down Jamiat’s posters pasted on walls in the university.
The students chanted “Imran terey jaanisar - Beshumaar beshumaar”, “Prime Minister of Pakistan - Imran Khan, Imran Khan”.
Some students told Dawn that IJT leaders had threatened them with dire consequences for taking part in the anti-Jamiat demonstration.
The protest march began at 11:30am, and on the way, groups of students belonging to various departments joined in. University teachers were also heard condemning Wednesday’s incident and supported the protesters on the campus.
“This is unprecedented. Thousands of students have united against IJT and compelled them (the IJT activists) to run away from the university,” a teacher said.
Some of the marchers tried to damage Jamiat’s office at the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology (ICET), an IJT stronghold. They were, however, prevented from doing so by their fellow protesters who pleaded for a peaceful demonstration.
In fiery speeches made during the protest, the students lambasted those involved in Imran Khan’s manhandling. Law College’s Rai Kashif said he had resigned from IJT membership along with many other law college students and all of them were now protesting as Imran Khan’s jiyalas. He said on Wednesday a large number of students had turned up to join Imran Khan in his protest, but the Jamiat activists disrupted the meeting and facilitated Imran’s arrest after a clash with his supporters. He said the Jamiat had thus cheated and degraded the students.
Speaking to the protesters in front of the VC’s office, Rao Samiullah said the students had stood up and would not allow the Jamiat activists to continue their ‘gundaism’ on the campus.
Talking to Dawn, two girl students said they had become sick of IJT activists, “who were harassing students on the campus”. Rizwan, another student, said whosoever was working for the restoration of constitution would be welcomed in the university. “We support lifting of emergency and Imran Khan is a leader of progressive and modern Pakistan,” he said.
The protesting leaders announced another demonstration on the law college ground at 9am on Friday (today).
Meanwhile, PTI’s Lahore President Ahsan Shabbir visited the university and told students that Imran Khan was alright and he was thankful to the students, who were protesting in his favour on the university campus. He also invited the students to join the PTI protest in Barkat Market later in the afternoon.
Talking to Dawn, PU Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan said Thursday’s protest was a proof that the university was alive and that all shades of opinion were represented here. He said the university administration understood the students’ anger, calling the protest civil society’s response to Imran Khan’s manhandling.