KARACHI: Dozens of teachers were injured as the police resorted to baton charge and tear gas shelling on a rally of protesting teachers who had gathered outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday. Police also arrested more than 200 teachers who apparently tried to proceed towards the Chief Minister’s (CM) House.
Some shells also landed in the premises of KPC compelling the journalists present there to take precautionary measures to avoid the breathing issues due to the smoke.
While the president of Government School Teachers Association (GSTA) claimed that at least 250 protesting teachers had been arrested, Edhi sources said that they had shifted many injured to the hospitals, out of whom five were stated to be in serious condition.
The protest was initiated by GSTA for the approval of their demands which include addressing the reservations of teachers due to the insecurity created by the management cadre, to give permanent status to the National Testing Service (NTS) teachers from date of joining, promotions of Sindhi Language Teachers and High School Teachers (HST) to head master and Junior School Teacher (JST) to HST on immediate basis, provision of time-scale according to Grade 17 to government school teachers, Grade 20 contract to HST, issuance of salary of teachers appointed in 2012, provision of group insurance at the time of retirement in the light of Supreme Court (SC) verdict, following the old procedure of appointments in education sector by Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC), provision of salaries to all government teachers equivalent to government officials working at the CM House, Governor House, Sindh Assembly and Sindh High Court, amongst eight other demands. The teachers have also announced the boycott of matric annual examinations and all academic affairs across the province.
GSTA President Ashraf Khaskheli, addressing the teachers gathered from all over Sindh, said that the protest will continue till all the demands are accepted as they had been demanding the education secretary for the last six months but to no avail. The government misguided the media saying that they had accepted the demands, but no notification has been issued, he said.
As the protesters marched towards the Red Zone, police contained them from both sides and upon resistance, resorted to baton charge and tear gas shelling. As a result of which, three teachers fainted on the spot while dozens were left injured. The five injured namely Attaur Rehman, Tariq, Nasir, Ghulam Nabi and Arif were immediately taken to the hospital in Edhi ambulances.
The GSTA president’s condition worsened due to the shelling and was taken inside the KPC by the teachers. Meanwhile, the protesters continued to shout slogans against the police and authorities. Many of them also staged a sit-in in front of Zainab Market.
GSTA president announced that all academic activities will remain suspended and sit-in will continue outside the KPC until demands are met. The education secretary should be ashamed of lying and treating teachers as terrorists, he said adding that they were assured that no police action will be taken to stop their protest. Khaskheli said that even the captured Indian pilot was not treated the way we were, this was disrespect to teachers.
On the other hand, Education Secretary Qazi Shahid, speaking to The Express Tribune, said that he talked to the teachers’ representatives till 1:00am last night but their demands are increasing now. The summary of demands has been sent to CM House for the approval, he said adding that the notification will be issued after the CM’s approval. He added that protesting at the time of examinations shows that the teachers want to sabotage the examinations.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2019.