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February 9, 2018

Agriculture Training Institute: Students refuse to attend classes without adequate security


February 9, 2018


PESHAWAR: The terrified students of the terror-hit Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) on Thursday blasted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for reopening the institute without making proper security arrangements.

A group of around 40 students had gathered at the lawns of the ATI on the second day of reopening of the institute. It remained closed for two months after the terrorist attack that claimed lives of nine students on December 1.

Some students squatted on the ground while others sat crossed-legged listening to their Principal Malik Zulfiqar and other senior faculty members who were seated in front of them in chairs.

The principal and faculty members were trying to convince the fear-stricken students to avoid staging protest as fulfillment of their demands would take some time.

The gathering dispersed after an hour of failed attempts by the principal and others to convince the students to avoid confrontation.

After meeting with students, the principal met the cops, who had reached the ATI after receiving information about the students’ plans of staging protest, and briefed them about the outcomes of the students-teachers meeting.

The briefing was in progress when a constable entered the room and informed his seniors that the students had blocked the road.

Everyone present in the room rushed to the gate where the SHO of the Town Police Station hurled veiled threats at the protesting students about the repercussion of their action. The cops pushed and shoved the students inside the ATI and bolted the door from inside. The SHO advised the students to convey their message in a peaceful manner.

The protesting students complained that they had not received the same response from the government as was given to the APS in Peshawar and the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.

They said the government improved security at the APS and Bacha Khan University after the attack but ATI was reopened without making stringent security arrangements. One student said that those advising them to avoid complaining should spend the fearful nights with them at the ATI.

The students claimed that only two repeater guns had been provided to the guards while no other concrete step had been taken for their security. 

The protesting students claimed that their injured fellows had not received money for treatment.  “The families of our injured fellows had borrowed money from relatives and friends for treatment of their children,” one of the students claimed.

Principal ATI Malik Zulfiqar told The News that the institution was reopened to save the students’ academic year. He added that four retired soldiers, below 40 years of age, had been recruited for security.

The institution had provided them shot-guns, he said. “The students want an entire battalion of army equipped with latest weapons to patrol the institution, which is not possible,” he remarked.

He said the police had advised them that the boundary wall should be 13 feet high with razor-wires on top. “The Communication and Works Department is making an estimate of the expenses of the wall, repair and other allied work for the building,” he added. We will submit the estimate to the government within few days. He said the students want similar security as was provided to APS and Bacha Khan University, adding that he also wishes for such security arrangements, but that was not in his control.

He added that the government had paid half the cost that was Rs0.9 million and would also pay the rest of the amount.

When asked about considering the option of closing the institute till foolproof security arrangements, he replied that closure was not an option.




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