Police in Quetta manhandled female students and arrested many of them who were protesting against the policy of online classes in Balochistan. The police brutality was once again manifested as students were baton charged, dragged and stuffed into vehicles in most inhuman ways.
This senseless act of police also trampled down the traditions of Balochistan where women’s respect and dignity were least cared of. This is not the first time the students have resorted to protest and have camped outside Balochistan Assembly for having educational related issues addressed. Previously it was the issue of fees in Bolan Medical College and Teaching Hospital and other medical colleges of the province which forced the students to resist the government policies for the rights of those students of Balochistan who have secured their seats but continual of their studies in these medical colleges was endangered by the sudden hike in the fees.
The recent issue of online classes emerged in the wake of Pandemic Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown and closure of educational institutions across the country. However, the high-ups in education sector thought it convenient to conduct online class to arrest the time that was slipping out of hand in the prevailing scenario.
Hence, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ordered universities across the country to conduct online classes so that the time of the students doesn’t go waste anymore. However, the students of Balochistan pleaded their case that online classes may be successful in rest of the country but their success was a far cry in Balochistan due to poor internet facilities. They have reportedly filed a petition against the decision in Balochistan High Court. It may be mentioned here that 3G and 4G internet facilities are limited to, at best, few district headquarters in Balochistan while rest of the divisions have been deprived of internet facility by the Government in the name of security. It means the students who are in the remote districts of Balochistan cannot benefit from the online classes and they will be in a state of loss on dual fronts: first, having been deprived of classes; second, chances of failure in the examinations.
The government of Balochistan, which is already in hot water owing to many other crisis, added to its unpopularity by manhandling of the students for no good. Chief Minister Balochistan, however, later explained that it was not the government that ordered the arrest of students but his Government’s spokesman Liaqat Shahwani had already tweetedon his tweeter handle that the Government had detained the students ‘for their own safety’.
Such confused policy on the part of government is uncalled for. Moreover, this also exhibits sheer incompetence and lack of training of Balochistan police. When it comes to handling mobs, they end up in utter failure but when they receive clandestine orders to terrorise the students, they turn to be ruthless. The incident also shows the lack of concern of the powers that be towards the fundamental rights of students as well as the tribal traditions of Balochistan. To win a right place in the history, Government must refrain from taking decisions that go unpopular and hurt the sentiments of the masses. It must deal every situation wisely and be soft to the students to the core in geographical locations as precarious as Balochistan.