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February 27, 2020

Protest against police action: ICU teachers boycott research & academic activities


February 27, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Islamia College University Peshawar teaching staff on Wednesday announced a boycott of research and academic activities to protest the police action against teachers.

The decision was made at the emergency general body meeting of the Teaching Staff Association (TSA).

The association members met outside the vice-chancellor’s office under the leadership of its president, Dr Dilnawaz Khan Khattak, after police allegedly baton-charged them.

The teachers demanded immediate removal of acting vice-chancellor of the university Dr Naushad Khan, who, they claimed, have badly failed in running the institution’s affairs efficiently.

The protesting teachers accused the station house officer of the police of torturing teachers and desecrating the Constitution of the country. They sought his early suspension from service.

A resolution passed on the occasion stressed the need for resolution of the teachers’ problems by following the written agreement made by the university administration with the teaching fraternity.

It demanded a judicial inquiry and audit of all the financial, administrative affairs and recruitments made in the university during the last five years.

Talking to The News, the association president said the teachers had been staging a peaceful protest for the last two days to get demands accepted.

The university administration, however, instead of resolving their “genuine” demands, resorted to cheap tactics to put pressure on the teachers.

The main demands included an early payment of remuneration for extra classes, renewal of contracts, the holding of selection board and syndicate meetings, repair work at their homes and others.

The university administration, on the other hand, claims most of these demands have already been accepted but the association disputed that and said instead the university administration violated a written agreement made with the protesting teachers.

According to Dr Dilnawaz, the marathon round of talks between the vice-chancellor and the association office-bearers failed late Tuesday night.

He said the vice-chancellor wanted them to end the protest upon his verbal assurance, which was something unacceptable for the association.

“How could we believe in verbal assurance of the acting vice-chancellor, who has already violated his own written agreement with the protesting teachers,” he argued.

On Wednesday morning, when the teachers were trying to reach the lawn where they had set up a protest camp, they found it fenced and guarded by police.

They sent a message to the vice-chancellor, asking him to get the fences removed as the protest was peaceful. But the vice-chancellor took no notice of their message, he added.

“Ours was a peaceful token protest. We had not boycotted any academic or research activities,” he said.

Dr Dilnawaz said the teachers were holding a peaceful protest outside the lawn away from the fence when a police party “attacked them and inflicted injuries on some teachers.”

The association president was pushed to the police van in a humiliating manner. Soon more teachers and students gathered at the venue forcing police to leave and lift the fence from the lawn.

The teachers then held their general body where important decisions were taken, he said.

The university administration narrated own story. According to a clarification issued by registrar of the university, Dr Tauqeer Alam, the teachers protest coincided with the inauguration of ‘Provincial Science Olympiad/Fair and KP Creative Fest 2020’ by Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Jhagra at the cricket ground of Islamia College Peshawar which was the venue for the teachers’ protest as well.

The detailed clarification circulated by the university administration stated: “When Taimur Saleem Jhargra and Ziaullah Bangash came to inaugurate the Science Olympiad, the TSA office holders along with some of their supporters raised insulting slogans against the dignity of the university administration. Some of them hurled abuses at the high ranking officers of the university.

“The police officers present on the occasion tried to pacify the group of the TSA members. In the meantime, while the police staff was trying to pacify the protesters, the teachers got infuriated. As a matter of security responsibilities, the police staff tried to push aside the teachers from the vice chancellor’s office compound.

This scene had been projected as a police action against teachers on social media by the protesting TSA.”