Teachers protest in Bani Gala
Dozens of teachers have been arrested, including a lady teacher, after showering teargas shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse a mob of contract teachers of Punjab Secondary Schools, who gathered in front of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence at Banigala Saturday to register their protest against the Punjab government.
Police resort to tear gas shelling, baton charge to disperse protesters
School teachers, who form the building block of any education system, were batoncharged and tear-gassed near the prime minister’s sprawling mansion in the federal capital on Saturday as they protested the government’s reluctance to regularise contractual instructors working at state-run schools for years.
A subsequent protest by the teachers in the federal capital also led to a massive traffic jam.
Secondary Schools Educators (SSEs) from across Punjab descended on the federal capital on Saturday.
They aimed to stage a sit-in outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s mansion in the suburban Bani Gala area of the city.
The teachers and other education officials formed a rally and marched towards Bani Gala. The Islamabad Police, which had been deployed in large numbers with riot gear, had barricaded the Bani Gala road.
They attempted to stop the teachers. But when the teachers persisted, the police resorted to firing tear-gas at them and then baton-charged them.
At this, several teachers could be seen running for cover.
Some even clung on to other teachers as they found themselves surrounded by tear gas or baton-wielding police officers.
Several teachers were arrested after clashes broke out between the police and teachers, with some demonstrators allegedly pelting the police with stones.
Teachers protest in Bani Gala
Those who managed to escape the teary mist of the tear-gas or the clutches of the police, regrouped and started to protest on the Bara Kahu Road, completely blocking it for traffic.
Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hamza Shafqaat reached the spot and attempted to parley with the protesters.
He said that teachers were respectable people and that he wanted to hold peaceful dialogue with them.
The ICT official further said that every citizen of the country had a right to protest but it was inappropriate to harass innocent commuters by blocking the road.
However, the teachers refused to negotiate with the district administration. They insisted that contractual teachers who have been working in government schools of Punjab for the past seven should be regularised.
They further contended that the government had linked their regularisation with a test and interview by the Public Service Commission which was unjust.
They called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood to immediately direct the Punjab government to issue notification for the unconditional regularisation of SSEs so that they can perform their duties without any worries. Later, the teachers agreed to move to the Bani Gala Road, while demanding the release of their arrested colleagues.
This demand of the teachers was met and the arrested teachers were released.
They later called off their protests after Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat agreed to meet with the protesting SSEs at 11am on Sunday (today) for a dialogue.
As many as seven teachers sustained minor and serious injuries during the lathi-charge and teargas shelling, who were shifted to hospitals where, later on, discharged after getting medical aid, the hospital sources said.
According to the sources dozens of the protesting teachers were picked up and shifted to different police stations where they were detained.
The protesting teachers are of the view that the new policy of regularising the jobs of only those teachers who pass the examination of Public Service Commission and clear the interviews is unjust because they have been working on contract in their department for up to seven years.
The protesting employees of Punjab Secondary Schools, later, moved towards Murree Road and blocked it. The sit-in continued till the filing of this report.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat has initiated negotiation with the protesting people to settle the issue.
But the protesting teachers refused to hold talks. Heavy police contingents, however, have been deputed outside the residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bani Gala. However, the teachers said that they would not go back unless their demands are met