July 19, 2022
By Shaukat Korai
KARACHI: A teachers’ protest rally meant to start at the Karachi Press Club and end at the Sindh Chief Minister House was once again at the end of violently dispersed by police who tortured and arrested demonstrators on Monday.
Protesters were holding a sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club for the past several days, calling for the regularization and assured annual increments in their salary. After a lack of response from the provincial government, protesters began a march to the CM House, but were intercepted by the police.
Police resorted to violence after demonstrators refused to vacate the area, with many women protesters also being beaten and loaded into station wagons.
Samina, a teacher from Mirpurkhas, stated that it is a right of the people to protest if their voice is not heard, however police needlessly brutalized peaceful demonstrators.
“It has become extremely difficult to survive on our salaries. We wanted this matter to proceed peacefully,” she related. “The police warned us to move aside but we insisted we were marching peacefully. They beat the women, tore their clothes, arrested them…”
Zahid Iqbal Khati, head of the Teachers Action Committee (TAC) said that roughly 3,800 junior elementary school teachers and early childhood teachers recruited since 2018 are still rendering their duties, however neither have they been made permanent employees nor given annual increments.
He explained that a summary on regularizing teachers has been forwarded to the Chief Minister for approval, which is why protesters decided to march to the CM House. However, they were subjected to torture for speaking up for their rights.
“Teachers appointed under the 2021 policy are regularized, whilst we were appointed per the 2017 policy and have yet to be regularized. Therefore, our juniors effectively become our seniors. We also are not given increments,” he lamented.
Samina appealed to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chair Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to resolve their concerns and take notice of the police brutality.
“We have been sitting here since morning, we have children. Our leaders are in their seats today to hear and tend to our problems,” she said.
Sindh Minister for Education, Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities and Archives, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, regretted police action against peaceful protesters, terming the incident deplorable. He further stated that the Home Department will look into the matter, and assured teachers that their concerns will be resolved soon.
“Even today we are subject to British era laws, and the police serves to enforce the laws of rulers whenever there is dissent,” he opined.
Last month, Sindh police had tortured protesters calling for the recovery of Baloch missing persons, including female participants.
Former President of the Karachi Press Club Imtiaz Khan Faran condemned police violence against Baloch women in June and now female teachers on Monday.
“Baloch missing persons is an issue that is discussed in the international sphere, therefore the state and its organs should seriously iron out how to reasonably engage with women protesting for a social right.”