January 26th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz
On Tuesday, January 26, the DSP Lahore reached the University of Central Punjab (UCP) in an attempt to stop the brawl between campus guards and students. Till the end of the day, talks between the students’ representative bodies and the university administration were still ongoing and were being mediated by the district administration. Earlier on, more students gathered for a sit-in, especially after a clash took place a day ago on Monday, January 25.
The students’ demands began after the government announced their exams to be held in-person, rather than online. Their argument is that throughout the semester, their instructors have been teaching them online, however now all of a sudden the universities have unilaterally announced that final exams are to be held on-campus, which they say is ‘hypocritical and unjust’.
However whether the students’ demands have been fair or not remained to be decided, but it seems the first response of the universities’ administration have responded to most of these protests with dictatorial highhandedness, baton-charges, and injuries – the most recent being on Tuesday, January 26.
This kind of violent repression against students began after a police crackdown took place on the students of NUML, Islamabad, Students say the crackdown was admin-backed.
On Monday, January 25, the administration of the University of Management Technology (UMT) finally capitulated to the increasingly aggressive demands of its student body. Now the university is to hold the final exams for this semester online instead of requiring students to appear in physical exams.
After the crackdown on Monday, the students’ anger has reached its peak, especially as several students were injured, and also some female teachers was being a hospitalization and manhandling of a few female students.
UMT is not the only place, where such protests have brought about a campaign. Students from mostly private universities of all major universities in Pakistan have been protesting against the policies of their respective universities to take in-person exams after a semester of online classes.
After the current wave of agitation, the police’s response has only led to widespread condemnation especially among young people online.
Soon students from other universities across Pakistan rose up with similar demands. Most of the universities are from Punjab, whereas the Universities of DG Khan, Peshawar, and others have also been part of it.
So far protests have been recorded in Bahria University Islamabad, NFC Faisalabad, University of Central Punjab (UCP) Lahore, NUML Lahore, Peshawar University and Ghazi University DG Khan with many universities including Government College for Women University Faisalabad (GCWUF) and UMT already conceding to the students’ demands.