The recent crackdown by the security forces on peacefully protesting students and employees of the Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences (BUMHS) in Quetta, has resulted in Balochistan-wide criticism and condemnation of the government in general and the minister of education in particular.
The students and staff of BUMHS have for the last few months been exercising different modes of peaceful protests to make their voices heard. Their demands include a rollback in recent fee hikes, to keep a check on the Vice-Chancellors’ misuse of power, to bar the privatization of only public medical university in the province, and enacting students and employee-friendly legislation.
The distressed protesters who had often called off their protest over government’s promises of looking into their genuine demands had gathered outside the legislative assembly this Wednesday to remind the government of its failure to live up its pledge. The peaceful gathering of the protestors was interrupted by the Police who instead of facilitating the protest and engaging the young students in a constructive dialogue, used force to break the protest and subsequently, detained a large number of students and employees who were later released after a brief period of what many terms as illegal detention.
The scene of the arrest of the students and staff was captured in cameras and has been widely disseminated on social media where the Police can be heard slurring abuse at the students while dragging a student by the scruff of his neck into the prison van. Outraged by the mistreatment of their fellow students, the BUMHS staff and students chanted slogans against the government, calling it a gang of “selected and incompetent” clowns imposed on the already marginalized people of Balochistan.
Education Minister’s Ignorance of Baloch Codes of Cultural Ethics
A delegation of the protesting students had gone to the assembly lodges to communicate their demands to the newly appointed minister of Education Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind, who in turn, according to the leader of the delegation Dr Mahrang Baloch, was ignorant of the situation. He arrogantly rubbished their demands, and further went on to degrade the lady doctor for being a girl and out in the streets, after she complained about the use of force by the police against her fellow students.
One wonders how the minister’s words set well with the government’s much-hyped claims to enhance and encourage women education in the province. According to the UNICEF, Pakistan records the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, and in Balochistan, 78% of girls are out of school and not getting any education at all. The arrogant Sardar Rind is in fact, not only a wrong person for the position he holds in the government but is also seriously ignorant of the conventions and codes of cultural ethics of the Baloch society when he judges a female student’s character for her being out in the street demanding her educational rights. Instead of dwelling in the glorious characters of proud Baloch Sardars protective of its peoples’ lives and honour, one is left to bear with the present truth in an unequivocal agreement with the popular perception that Balochistan is being run by shameless people who are using shameful tactics to suppress the genuine demands of the people.