October 21st, 2020
By Hamid Riaz
A caravan of Baloch students from Bahauddin Zakriya University has arrived in the provincial capital, around 12 days after setting off from Multan on foot to push for the restoration of scholarships to students from Balochistan.
The caravan reached Thokar Niaz Baig the afternoon of October 21. Members of civil society, fellow students, and political activists greeted the Baloch students on their arrival. The students are demanding that scholarship seats for students from Balochistan in different government universities of Punjab, especially BZU, should be restored. They are also demanding scholarship seats for Baloch-origin students in the tribal areas of Punjab.
Baloch students joined a rally from Thokar Niaz Beg to Charing Cross to highlight their demands. University students from Punjab also participated in the rally to show solidarity with the Baloch students.
The issue happened when a few days after the students set off on their march, the Punjab and Balochistan governments issued two separate notifications that dealt with the payment of scholarships to these students till 2023. According to the students, their protest is about finding a permanent fix for funding of scholarships to students from Balochistan.
The protesting students claim that in recent months, funding to scholarships for Baloch students has been drastically reduced. A few months ago, students from Balochistan studying at Punjab University had staged a sit-in after the funding of their scholarship was stopped.
The funding was restored following the student demonstration. Baloch students from Punjab University are also walking side by side with their fellows from Bahauddin Zakriya University to show their support.
The students have threatened to hold a sit-in at Charing Cross to press for their demands, adding that the students would march on to Islamabad if the provincial governments did not redress their problems here.