December 3rd, 2021 

By Asra Haque & Hamid Riaz 


A peaceful march organized by differently-abled students of the Punjab University’s Quaid-e-Azam campus to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities was disrupted when a brawl broke out between the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba and Punjab Council.

Differently-abled students were forced to abandon their plans for a rally and instead displayed posters inscribed with their demands from the university administration. Demonstrators lamented the lack of provisions and facilities for differently-abled students, and the University’s apathy toward their repeated pleas for support.

Students provide that the campus is inaccessible for students in wheelchairs – there are no ramps that allow them to access buildings, barricades have been placed at different points barring entry to wheelchairs. Furthermore, there are no special bathrooms.

Awais, who is studying law at PU, needs a wheelchair for better mobility. But, the campus’ infrastructure has made it unnecessarily difficult for him to get to classes. He says differently-abled students have approached the administration multiple times with their plea for the past two years, but have only been given assurances.


Sharjeel, a visually-impaired student, created the Inclusive Students Society (ISS) to not only organize events such as today’s protest but to also pressure an unwilling administration to facilitate PU’s differently-abled student body. He tells that the administration has refused to endorse the ISS.


Student allies also gathered at the protest site in solidarity. Haris, a member of the Progressive Students Collective, says that differently-abled students are marginalized on campuses everywhere and are treated as burdens, when he was of the view that by virtue of their disabilities they are stronger and learn to adapt far more quickly and effectively.


Protesters made known further demands, such as extra time during tests and examinations, waived hostel fees, increase in the quota for differently-abled students from one to at least three seats or more and ensure these seats are not given to undeserving people, and ensure lesson plans accommodate differently-abled students so they do not fall behind other students.



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