KARACHI, Nov 2: The Sindh government may acquire the Islamia College building complex as a last option to save the future of 18,000 students of eight schools and colleges housed in the historic building, Dawn has learnt.
When a senior government official was asked if it was possible that the Sindh government, with a view to saving thousands of students from being thrown out of their educational institutions and to protect the historical site, could acquire the Islamia College building complex, he replied in the affirmative.
Wishing not to be named, the official pointed out that “acquiring the Islamia College building complex will, however, be the last option for the government.”
On the other hand, relevant circles are concerned how the Sindh education department would accommodate 18,000 students of four government colleges and as many schools housed in the complex if they were dislodged from the building in the wake of an order of the rent controller-III (Karachi East).
An official who was part of a delegation which recently met the provincial secretary education to discuss the issue of the college building also confirmed that the secretary had told the meeting that acquiring the building complex was available as a last option with the government.
Apex court option
Discussing the fate of the appeal which the education department had filed recently in the Sindh High Court against the order of the rent controller, the director of colleges (inspection), Prof Arshad Jamal, said that the court had described the appeal as non-maintainable on some technical grounds, but they have not yet received the copy of the court’s order.
“As soon as we get the copy of the order, we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court in our bid to retain the Islamia College building complex in the possession of the education department.”
Meanwhile, well-placed sources told Dawn that Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, taking notice of the plight of the students and to resolve the issue amicably, held a detailed meeting with a trustee of the Islamic Education Trust on Wednesday.
Sindh Minister Syed Sardar Ahmed and the Jamshed Town nazim had also visited the Islamia College. They assured the students and teachers that the government was making efforts to save the Islamia College building complex so that thousands of students would not suffer.
Though the deadline of Oct 25, which the rent controller had fixed in his April 26, 2008 order for vacating the Islamia College building complex and handing over its possession to the official assignee of court, has already passed, the possession of the complex is still with the education department. The academic activities, particularly of students whose degree level examinations are scheduled to begin in November, have seriously been hampered as students’ protests over the prevailing uncertainty have become a matter of routine outside the college building. And their protests are gaining momentum day by day. The representatives of all students’ organisations have formed a joint action committee to voice their anger over the rent controller’s order and the education department’s inordinate delay in filing an appeal against the rent controller’s order.
Apprehending that the students’ protests might take an ugly turn and may create a law and order situation, a number of teachers of the four colleges in the complex – Islamia Science College, Islamia Arts and Commerce College (morning), Islamia Arts and Commerce College (evening) and Islamia Law College – have urged the government to immediately bring an end to the uncertainty so that students could pursue their studies with peace of mind.
“Scuffles between protesting students and police have already taken place while bashing of students at the hands of police has been witnessed during the protests,” teachers said.
Meanwhile, the Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association Karachi chapter president, Prof Ather Hussain Mirza, and the additional secretary, Prof Iftikhar Azmi, said here on Thursday that the Sindh government would be killing two birds with one stone if it acquired the Islamia College building complex as by doing so, it would not only save thousands of students from mental agony, but would also be protecting the historical site.
Recalling the historical importance of the plot where the Islamia College building complex is located, they said that it is the same plot where the fourth meeting of the Indian National Congress was held in 1934, and where a delegation of the Pakistan Muslim League’s first convention stayed, while the graves of scholars Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani and Syed Suleman Nadvi are located on the premises of the complex.
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