PESHAWAR - Police baton charged students of Peshawar University protesting hike in admission and hostel fee and demanding relief, here yesterday.

The students were holding peaceful protest rally in front of administration block when police, on the directives of chief security officers, launched crackdown against activists of Pakhtun Students Federation, Insaf Students Federation and Islami Jamiat Tulaba. Five students sustained injuries while 28 others were arrested.

The injured students were identified as Saleem Ahmad, Hasnain, Farooq, Abbas and Shah Fahad.

Talking to The Nation, Attiqullah, information secretary of Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) University Campus Peshawar, said the administration had increased admission fee from Rs27,500 to Rs32,500 while hostel admission fee had been increased up to Rs33,000.

Similarly, the university was charging Rs48,000 from students as admission fee for masters admission, he said.

Malakand Students Society President Waleed told The Nation that the vice chancellor had converted the university campus to cantonment board. He added that university administration had hired the services of a retired army colonel as a chief security officer, who was taking Rs0.4 million monthly salary from the university.

The chief security officer was also running a private security company and had deputed 48 persons inside the campus from his own organisation. He said now everyone had seen the performance of the chief security officer who ordered police to baton charge the students.

He said five of their colleagues sustained serious wounds and shifted to Hayatabad Medical Complex Peshawar in precarious condition.

He said protesters were demanding reduction in admission fee and withdrawal of FIR against the students, besides allowing them to attend their examination, but instead of fulfilling their demands the students were brutally tortured.

On the other hand, university spokesman Ali Imran Bangash told media persons that students had occupied rooms on the campus illegally. They were asked to vacate 300 rooms illegally occupied by various federations.

He said the university administration had no option other than to use force as the students were attacking administration block with a violent protest demonstration.

Awami National Party provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak strongly condemned the use of force against students.

Jamaat-e-Islami provincial general secretary Abdul Wasay also denounced the use of force against protesters and urged the university administration to resolve students’ problems through negotiations and withdraw FIRs against students.

BILAWAL CONDEMNS TORTURE

ON STUDENTS

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned baton charge against students and said the university should focus on addressing students’ grievances instead of using force against peaceful protesters.

Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Bilawal asked the government not to avenge its continuous failures and U-turns from the students and youth.

In a statement issued here, the PPP Chairman said that holding peaceful protest for their rights was a democratic right of the students and subjecting them to such cruel treatment by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police was an intolerable act for any democrat.

Bilawal expressed solidarity with the Peshawar University students demanding that all the detained students should be freed forthwith and their fees should be reduced to make education affordable for every student aspiring for the professional higher education.

The PPP chief also asked for better medical treatment to the injured students and a strong action against those responsible for torture on students.