Eight kilometres too far: Karak residents protest against university’s construction site

Published: September 3, 2013

Residents of Chauntra have been taking to the streets, claiming the change of grounds was because of a “bias” against them. PHOTO: FILE

KARAK: 

Hundreds of Chauntra, Karak residents have been protesting over the last three days against plans to not construct Khushal Khan University in Karak city.

On Sunday, locals gathered at Jail Chowk, Chauntra and demanded the campus be built near Jail Chowk, where temporary classes have been held since February. They rallied against plans of building the university approximately eight kilometres further at Tor Dahnd, Amberi Kalan.

Plans for Khushal Khan University took shape under the Awami National Party-led government. A four-member committee was established which included Abdul Wali Khan University Vice Chancellor (VC) Ihsan Ali,  Khushak Khan University VC Prof Ibrahim, deputy commissioner Karak and former University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar VC Imtiaz Gillani to decide the technicalities and feasibilities for the campus.

Earlier this year, temporary classes were started at Jail Chowk and residents started lobbying for the campus to be constructed there.

However, according to the committee’s initial reports, the university cannot be constructed in the mountainous region of Jail Chowk. Instead it recommends building it on the plains of Amberi Kalan. The report stipulated there would be problems in the long-term if the campus was built on Jail Chowk, citing issues of water and expansion. Amberi Kalan is located at the approximate centre of the district, has potable water and is feasible for further expansion.

However, residents of Chauntra have been taking to the streets, claiming the change of grounds was because of a “bias” against them. They were adamant the government not let the university campus be built in Amberi Kalan.

Haji Noor Aslam, social activist and Khattak Ittehad leader, addressed the demonstrators. Aslam argued there was no point to “shift the university after getting requisite approvals and allotting 1,500 kanals of land at Jail Chowk.”

Karak University VC trying to shift the university to his own village is not acceptable, said the activist.

“Those who are trying to politicise this issue will not succeed.” Aslam stated they would wait for the final report to be issued and if the committee decided to shift the campus, massive protests would be launched against the decision.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2013.

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