KARACHI: The students and teachers of DJ Science College protested on Wednesday against the education department for illegally allotting the residence of the college's principal and attempting to demolish parts of the heritage building.
Holding placards and banners, the students demanded Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who is an alumni of the college, to save the heritage building from the mafia.
"This historic bungalow of our college principal is already under the occupation of the directorate office of human resources and training of the education department. They have now issued letters to the residents of the servant quarters where they want to expand their offices," a senior teacher of the college, requesting anonymity, said.
"Given the shortage of classrooms, we had converted the principal's residence into a classroom where we used to hold computer and geology classes. But during the last Pakistan Peoples Party government, the then education minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, set up the camp office of the Sindh Text Book Board. Now, this bungalow has been allotted to the human resources and training director-general in violation of the rules," said the teacher, adding that a notification for the allotment of the principal's residence has been issued by the schools secretary even though the college falls under the domain of the colleges secretary.
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A notification issued on August 5, 2017 by then schools secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili, said that the secretary, being the competent authority, allotted the residence of the newly-created office of human resources and training DG.
In the letter, the education secretary asked the HR DG to take over possession of the entire first floor, right hall and rooms on the ground floor of the building.
"After the bifurcation plan that was introduced in 2016, the college and schools became two separate departments. How can the schools secretary allot this bungalow in 2017? This is fraud and the chief minister must take notice of it," said an official, showing a copy of the notification.
The official added that the principal, vice-principal and teachers of the college were unaware of the decision. "When the former education minister set up a camp office around seven years ago, the college administration had expressed concerns, but the minister assured them that it was an ad hoc arrangement," a senior teacher said.
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"We thought some sections of the education department were temporarily working here, but it was an utter surprise for us today when they showed us an allotment copy and threatened to demolish 10 to 15 quarters already declared as a heritage site," the teacher said.
DJ Science College is one of the most prestigious colleges in Karachi.
It was built by Hindu philanthropist Dayaram Jethamal in 1887 and Viceroy of India Lord Dufferin laid the foundation stone of the college. Some of the popular alumni of the college include renowned columnist and philanthropist the late Ardeshir Cowasjee, the CM, scientist Dr Abdul Qadir Khan and many other notable personalities.
Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that the principal's bungalow came under encroachment when former culture minister Sassui Palijo renovated it given its historic importance. "It was not only the Sindh Text Book Board camp office, but the then education minister and bureaucrats of the department used to sit here as well," sources said.
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On the other hand, the HR officials said they had lodged complaints with higher authorities against some people illegally living in the servant quarters in the college premises. In a letter addressed to education secretary and the principal of the college, the HR and training director diverted attention toward occupants living in the college area.
"The building, with its compete premises, such as the camp office of the Sindh Text Book Board, has been allotted to us in August, 2017.
However, unidentified individuals are using the premises through partially constructed quarters illegally under claims that the space was allotted to them by the principal. The occupants have failed to give us any legal documents. You are, therefore, requested to share with us the legal position on it," the HR and training assistant director wrote in a letter addressed to the principal of the college.
In separate letter, the HR director has requested the education secretary to intervene, seeking his help in the matter and for him to play a role in having the quarters vacated. "I have attempted to contact the principal of the college, but there has been no response.
He also avoided talking about the issue. So please help us in this matter," Jamal Mustafa Kazi, the HR and training director, said.
Despite many attempts, the education secretary and minister could not be reached for comments. The spokesperson for the education department, however, called it an internal matter and said, "The issue will be resolved soon".
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