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Baloch students prevent QAU buses from plying

Baloch students prevent QAU buses from plying

ISLAMABAD: The Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), which re-opened a week ago after a 19-day closure, could not hold classes again on Monday as protesting students kept university buses from plying on their routes.

University sources said that protesting students deflated buses’ tyres late Sunday night. By the time the vandalism was discovered, it was too late and the buses were unable to leave in times to pick up students and faculty members on Monday morning.

Protesters also reportedly poured glue into locks of department buildings.

QAU officials claimed that even though a large police presence remained on campus, they didn’t take any action against the protesters.

Classes could not be held as students, teachers did not make it to campus

Last week, classes were restarted when five of the six protesting student councils called off the strike. However, students associated with the Baloch Council continued their protest.

They have been demanding the restoration of expelled and rusticated students.

“Our strike will continue until our expelled and rusticated fellows are not restored,” said Sameer Baloch, one of the protesters.

The QAU’s disciplinary committee had expelled two Baloch students and rusticated eight others for their involvement in a May 20 clash between the Baloch and Sindhi councils. The university had also expelled seven students from the Mehran Council and rusticated over 20.

The university remained closed for the better part of the month due to the strike observed by all the student councils, which had put forth various demands.

These included the withdrawal of a 10pc fee increase, and called for placing the matter of the rusticated and expelled students before the university’s syndicate – the supreme decision-making body at QAU.

The syndicate upheld the decision of the discipline committee, following which five of the six student councils, including the Mehran Council, called off their strike, paving the way for the university’s reopening from last Monday.

But Baloch students are still on strike, and managed to bring life on campus to a standstill.

“We were attacked in May by Sindhi students. We acted in self-defence, but the university took action against Baloch students. We will continue our strike until they are not restored,” said Baloch Council leader Kamran Baloch.

QAU Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf could not be reached for comment, but senior faculty member Dr Wiqar Ali Shah told Dawn that efforts were under way to tackle the issue.

Besides the protest on campus, the Baloch students have been in contact with the political leadership of Balochistan and on Wednesday, held a meeting with the Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri at Balochistan House.

The same day, Federal Education Minister Balighur Rehman visited the QAU campus and directed the vice chancellor to resolve the matter of the expelled and rusticated students. Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti is also said to be in contact with the QAU administration for the restoration of the expelled and rusticated students.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2017

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