Police baton-charge, arrest contract teachers demanding permanent status

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Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad Police on Saturday baton charged and used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesting teachers of the Punjab secondary schools who were marching towards Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in Bani Gala with the demand to grant them permanent status.
Some 11,000 teachers—Subject Specialists and Assistant Education Officers (AEO)– are currently working in the provincial education department and despite working for several years on contract basis they have not been given permanent status. After getting tired of their repeated demands and refusal by the Punjab government, they have now decided to take the matter to the federal government as they believe, the affairs of the Punjab government are directly supervised by the Prime Minister in Islamabad. On Saturday, some 4,000 teachers gathered on the Murree Road cross-section leading towards the prime minister’s private residence in Bani Gala. They were holding placards, banners and pamphlets in favour of their demands and inviting the attention of the premiere to their persistent demands.
As they started marching on the road, police used tear gas and baton-charged them to disperse them.
A number of lady teachers fainted on the spot due to the severity of tear gas while police also arrested a number of teachers under interrupting the official work section. “We have been directed not to let any protesting teacher march towards the Prime Minister’s residence,” said a senior police official while talking to Pakistan Observer. After the police’s high-handedness, the protesting teachers blocked the Murree Road from Bhara Kahu side causing the worst traffic jam and problems for the commuters.
Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat reached the site and tried to engage the protesting teachers in negotiation but they refused to listen to him. “Teachers are a respectable class of society and we have great regard for them, however, it is a matter related to the Punjab government,” said the DC while talking to the media. He said it was unfortunate they were blocking the main artery between Murree and Islamabad and causing problems for the commuters. While talking to Pakistan Observer, a protesting teacher said Prime Minister Imran Khan during his 126-day sit-in in 2014 had been claiming peaceful protest is every citizen’s right but today he denied us this right. We were going to the Bani Gala only to register our complaint against the Punjab government’s indifference.

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