On Tuesday, students of the University of Central Punjab (UCP) gathered outside the university campus in Lahore to protest against the administration’s decision to hold on-campus exams after a semester that had exclusively online instruction.
The protest came in a series of heightened political activism by students all around the country. Only yesterday, students of the University of Management and Technology (UMT) protested on the same issue outside the campus, which led to all student demands being met. Similarly, students of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and PMAS-Agricultural University had led massive protests a week ago.
Students also claimed that the police has used extensive force against them and baton-charged the protestors during yesterday’s protest at UMT, claims that the police denied. However, Twitter and other social media platforms were filled with videos of an ambulance moving amidst the crowd and videos of a few unconscious students.
Attendees at the UCP protest included students from other universities such as Government College University (GCU), UMT, amongst others to show solidarity.
Reports of similar incidents started making rounds today as well, soon video evidence of the incident was shared on Twitter. Videos show the private guards of the university baton-charging, pelting stones and whipping students, while police officers stand at an arm’s distance as silent spectators. According to some student testimonies, a large number of students gathered outside the UCP campus and raised slogans against the administration. After which the private guards of UCP attacked students.
In retaliation, the large crowd gathered tried to break down the university’s gate and later set it on fire. The administration stated that the students were illegally trying to enter the university’s premises, and the guards tried to stop them from entering.
After the incident, the Punjab Police arrested students en mass and took them away in police vans.
The Correspondent talked to students at the protest, one of the students said, “The same people who own this university also own news channels [Dunya News and Lahore News], and the disinformation campaign they have been running against us is despicable. They want to have on-campus exams during a pandemic, and they will charge people for campus facilities for coming to campus once. They have taught online all semester but want to mark exams as if everything is normal, so more students repeat courses. The administration is exploiting us, and yet their privately owned news channels show us as ‘gunda-gard anasir’ [violent group].”
As of now, the crowd has been dispersed by the police, and students have been taken into custody. Another student at the scene reported that the police are arresting students from inside Shaukat Khanam Hospital’s premises, where students took cover from police violence and arrests. The hospital is 3 minutes away from UCP.