FIRs against 36 students
LAHORE: Court released five student leaders from Progressive Students Collective (PSC) and 36 other students against whom FIRs was registered for alleged involvement in protest and causing damages to university building.
The students held a protest demonstration against UCP administration decision to conduct physical exams of online classes. The university called for the police and several students were seriously injured due to police baton-charge and they were shifted to hospital. The situation worsened when students protesting students entered the campus forcefully and try to set parts of the building on fire. The students were beaten up by university guards. Later, many protesting students were arrested by the police and a case was registered against 500 unknown individuals, including 36 students.
Police, later, raided the homes of the student leaders and arrested five activists of the Progressive Students Collective (PSC). The Model Town Sessions Court dismissed the charges against 36 students, including the five student leaders, and ordered their release.
Zubair Siddiqui, President of Progressive Students Collective Lahore, who was leading the student protests, was severely injured in the policebaton-charge outside University of Central Punjab (UCP) during a protest and later admitted to hospital. While talking to The Educationist, he said, “We are citizens of Pakistan and it is our right to protest against any unlawful act. We were organizing a peaceful protest demonstration when police constable resorted to baton-charge on me and fellow students causing serious injuries to us. I have always believed in peaceful struggle. There is no hatred or animosity in any of my speeches or actions. We were united only for our rights. The police registered cases against me under the pressure of owners of UCP. I faced these cases in court and I succeeded”. If there was any evidence against me, it would have been presented in the court but all the cases against me proved to be false and baseless. The court honorably acquitted me.
Siddiqui further said that I don’t think students are heard in their own educational institutions. I demand the government to restore student unions in Pakistan so that students can choose their elected representatives.
Salman Sikandar, another activist of PSC, who was released by the court ruling said, “the Punjab police was under intense pressure of UCP to arrest the students. I and four of my comrades were picked up from their homes by the police. We were mistreated in prison, handcuffed in court and presented as criminals. The state itself is creating grief and anger among the youth. The way the educational capitalist was protected and the students were humiliated on the streets, the anger of the students will be greater in the times to come. State institutions such as the police baton-charge and the arrests of students made it clear that they are not to protect us but to protect the interests of big capitalists”.
Harris Ahmad Khan, another student leader of PSC, said, “When the police came to our house, the whole neighborhood gathered. When we asked for a warrant, the policeman slapped our other colleague Ali Ashraf and dragged us to the police car. We were treated like terrorists and black cloth was put on our heads. But within the next two days, the police could not prove the case against us in court. The court acquitted us of all charges and dismissed the false and baseless case against us. Police took no action against the UCP security guards who tortured the students. Many video proofs are uploaded on social media”.
Responding to the question about online exam demand, Harissaid, “Online exams are now being conducted all over the world after online classes. The question arises here is why students want online exams and why universities are against their demand? The answer is that students come from all around the country to Lahore and Islamabad. Most of them can’t afford their travelling and living expenses here for only a month because they were not assured to take on-campus classes after exams. Physical exams should be taken only if universities have a perfect mechanism according to which each student can get all concept same as classroom and this mechanism is not present here. Teachers should give conceptual questions about subjects so that students cannot cheat from somewhere. But this concept is not present here in whole country because education system is all about memorizing some pages of a book and then putting the same words down on paper to get maximum marks. Even teachers don’t know how to ask concept based questions. So, it is not only the inability of students because of which they are protesting but it is actually the inability of system which has failed to adopt modern means of education”.
The answer to second question is quite simple. Universities want physical exams because they know they didn’t teach students well in classes and most of students are not able to pass physical exams. They will get failed; in return university will get a large amount for second attempt. We can easily understand this by comparing private universities to public universities but agreed to take online exams, he further added.