Students beaten up, arrested by police in University of Peshawar
Peshawar- Muttahida Talba Mahaz in University of Peshawar staged a big demonstration inside the university campus against an increase in the semester fee, which turned into clashed with police on Thursday, leading to injuries and several arrests.
Six students were injured and taken to the Khyber Teaching Hospital, the hospital’s public relations officer, Farhat Khan, told media men.
A police official at the campus police station, who wished not to be identified, told Pashtoon News that 28 students had been arrested for staging the protest held in violation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedures Code.
He added that three policemen had also received injuries during the clash.
The protest had been announced by the Muttahida Tulaba Mahaz. It was held at the New Academic Block, where students from the Pukhtoon Students Federation (PSF) — the student wing of Awami National Party (ANP), People Students Federation, student wing of Pakistan People Party (PPP), Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT), and Muslim Students Federation (MSF) congregated to record their opposition to the fee hike.
On the other side, Peshawar University spokesperson, Imran Ali Bangash said that he believed the protests were also a reaction to an operation conducted by the university administration in July during which they had vacated around 300 hostel rooms occupied by students belonging to various political organisations and movements.
“These students were trying to blackmail us [the university administration]. Two outsiders, both of whom are graduates, are leading these protests. One belongs to the IJT and the other to the PSF. Their aim is to find a way to blackmail the administration whilst using innocent students as a shield.
Strong condemnations pour in
Meanwhile, strong statements of condemnation started pouring in; prominently from Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen and ANP leaders.
Pashteen, condemning the police crackdown on students, said: “Protests against fee increase is an expected reaction from those who can’t afford to pay. We demand action against police responsible for this violence. Everyone has the right to protest.”
We strongly condemn Police brutality against students of Peshawar University. Protests against fee increase is an expected reaction from those who can't afford to pay. We demand action against police responsible for this violence. Everyone has the right to protest #DaSangaAzadiDa
— Manzoor Pashteen (@manzoorpashteen) October 4, 2018
“Is this the change that they wish to bring about? To rain batons on students protesting?” the spokesperson asked.
Later in the day, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar visited the students in custody at the campus police station.
“If this brutality against students continues, the political parties will join the students in protesting,” Mian Iftikhar Hussain warned.
Similarly, Pakistan Muslim League (N) also slammed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for using police force against students in University of Peshawar.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa govt’s response
Soon after the students were arrested and police managed to disperse the crowd, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Spokesperson, Shaukat Yousafzai held a press conference regarding the incident.
He expressed sorrow at the way things had escalated and asserted that he has and will always raise his voice for the rights of students.
He provided assurances that talks were being held for the expeditious release of the students, and said that the government was willing to address any grievances and conduct an inquiry if the students so wish.
Following the police brutality against peaceful protesters, the university students blocked the main GT road outside the university which forced the government to release the arrested students.
Moreover, the former provincial and central chairman of Pakhtun Students Federation, Imtiaz Wazir, an analysts of Pashtun affairs has strongly condemned the use of police force against peaceful protesters in University of Peshawar.
“Pakistan’s military establishment has been making efforts to turn universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan into a shelter house for the military personnel and terrorist groups,” Wazir revealed.
He said, the Muslim students Federation, operating in educational institutions of Quetta, capital city of Baluchistan province is totally a mixture of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jamat ul Dawat and others.
“This wing of Pakistan’s war proxies has been involved in target killing of Hazara community and conducting terrorist and destructive activities against the ethnic nationalist forces in the province,” Wazir noted.