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October 23, 2020

Baloch students stage sit-in for reserved seats, scholarships at varsities

Lahore

October 23, 2020

LAHORE:Dozens of Baloch students who started marching towards Islamabad reached the provincial metropolis on Wednesday evening and observed a peaceful protest sit-in outside Punjab Assembly on Thursday to press the government for their demands.

Their primary demand included restoration of reserved seats and scholarships for Baloch students at the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Multan, from where they had started their foot march on 9 October. The students resorted to the march following the BZU administration and the Punjab government remained unmoved after 40 days long protest camp outside the university.

Talking to The News at the sit-in, Baloch Students Council Chairman Waqar Baloch said their other demands included scholarship at public university of Punjab for students belonging to the DG Khan’s tribal areas and initiation of scholarships at Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB) and other universities of Punjab.

He said the BZU administration suspended scholarships for Baloch students citing financial constraints while the IUB was also demanding fee from poor students. He said the students marching towards Islamabad were already enrolled in different universities, particularly BZU, but they were protesting for Baloch students of new sessions who belonged to humble class and were being denied reserved seats and scholarships to continue higher education.

It is pertinent to mention that Punjab University (PU) has two percent reserved seats for Balochistan students. Besides free hostel accommodation to talented but needy students, the university also awards Rs3,000 monthly stipend to each Baloch student admitted against a reserved seat. On Thursday, except for some PDM leaders, no representative of the provincial government or the ruling PTI met the protesting students outside the Punjab Assembly. Waqar said that Punjab Governor/Chancellor Ch Muhammad Sarwar had met the Baloch students during their march at Sahiwal and had assured them of looking into the issue and providing relief to the students but to no avail. The students told The News that they would continue their protest sit-in for a day or two in Lahore and if the government did not accept their demands they would continue their march for Islamabad. They continued their protest until filing of this report.