Baloch students are facing a new wave of harassment and are feeling increasingly insecure within the premises of their educational institutes since November 2021.
In November last year, students of the Balochistan University protested for 20 long days against the ‘enforced disappearances’ of two of Baloch students — Sohail Baloch and Faseeh Baloch, who were allegedly picked up from the university hostels. The students decided to discontinue their protest after successful negotiations with a government committee, but a year on and the whereabouts of Sohail and Faseeh are still not known.
Not long ago, a case was reported in Gwadar and Turbat when Baloch students ‘forcibly disappeared’ while on their way to the university in Quetta. Likewise, Hafeez Baloch, M.Phil student of Physics at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, was taken away by unknown, armed and masked men from a tuition centre in Khuzdar. He was released after the prosecution failed to prove him guilty.
Another Baloch student, Beebagr Imdad, was whisked away from Lahore’s University of Punjab hostel by the institution’s security in-charge. Imdad was released after the students protested on the university premises. But neither was anyone held accountable for the forced disappearances, nor was any action taken against the involved personnel.
Baloch students of Balochistan University’s sub-campus in Kharan are protesting against the non-execution of a bill passed for the construction of Rakhshan University and against strict rules of the Higher Education Commission that allows only three departments to be set up in the sub-campus of the university in Kharan.
Baloch students of the Bahawalpur Islamia University are protesting against the administration for charging 50 percent fees on reserved seats, which the government already pays to the university.
For the last few days, Baloch students are demonstrating at the Bahawalpur University, demanding: restoration of fully funded scholarships for Baloch students on reserved seats; on-campus accommodation, discriminatory behaviour adopted by the university administration against Baloch students, their profiling and harassment. They are also demanding the charged dues on reserved seats be refunded.
“A focal person of the varsity visited us and told us that our issues will be resolved. But no commitment was made on the correction of administration’s behaviour towards Baloch students and fees adjustment,” said a Baloch student.
The harsh tactics of the administration will only make students more resilient and more committed to their cause. “We will resist [the discriminatory tactics] till the end,” said another student.
Instead negotiating with Baloch students, the university administration is using forceful means, such as expelling nine Baloch students on alleged charges of indiscipline and distorting law and order situation. They are asking if speaking against brutalities inflicted on them a violation of law and order? Is protesting within the legal framework of the constitution a crime? Is being Baloch student a crime?
The government needs to promote education to solve the impending issues of underdevelopment in Balochistan.