Sindh police used water cannons, baton charge and tear gassed protesting teachers to avert them from moving towards Chief Minister House, in a bid to lodge their complaints and convey their demands, on Thursday. These protesting teachers were calling for promotions on the basis of time-scale formula, demanding the government to introduce reforms in the management cadre.Around 2000 teachers assembled outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) for lodging a protest, where officials of Government School Teachers Association (GSTA) delivered speeches, demanding the fulfilment of their requests. They called for revamping the management cadre, with no appointments of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) officers to the education sector. GSTA President Ashraf Khaskehli, along with other office-bearers demanded the government to assign a time-scale mechanism, which would lead to the promotion of teachers with 24 years of service to the Grade-20 cadre. A similar protest was underway in Punjab as well, by the PPLA who have demanded the government to meet their demands to the earliest.
Witnesses and officials claimed that the police resorted to strict actions when the protestors turned towards the CM house, detaining 20 and injuring five, who were later shifted to hospitals for medical attention. However, the police claimed that the alleged action was taken after talks between the government officials and teachers failed, and the latter was adamant of marching towards the ‘Red Zone’, the term deemed to denote the area surrounding the chief minister house and the governor house.
A portion of Sarwar Shaheed Road, directing to the KPC was already closed for traffic flow and police were deployed on M.D. Wafai Road and the surrounding area. As the teachers marched towards the red zone, police resorted to shelling, baton charge and water cannons against the protesting teachers, near the Arts Council roundabout.
SSP South Pir Mohammed Shah said teachers had announced of holding a protest on Wednesday outside the CM house. “We engaged them in talks to persuade them to restrict their protest outside the KPC as rallies in the Red Zone have been banned,” he added. A representative of the protesting teachers also held talks with the education secretary and city commissioner. During the meeting, the commissioner ensured the representative that provincial government was all set to address and meet their legitimate demands and a summary was also being prepared, per the spokesperson of the commissioner.
SSP Shah said GSTA leaders ended the meeting giving a thumbs up and were satisfied with the claims of the commissioner, who urged them to withdraw the protest for the smooth administration of the upcoming matriculation examinations. However, when they reached the KPC, they announced of moving towards the CM house. Shah claimed police used tear gas and dispersed the protestor, preventing them to move towards the red zone area. He said only two protestors had been wounded and eight were detained, which were released in the evening.
GSTA president Khaskheli claimed that more than 200 teachers were detained by the police, leaving 150 teachers injured which also included eight female teachers. GSTA office-bearers have announced to boycott all educational activities until their demands were met by the government.
Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Executive Director said only two male teachers were shifted to the centre for treatment, who were discharged after the first medical aid. Education Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervez said holding a protest, particularly at the time when matriculation exams were approaching was an indication of conspiracy.
The protesting teachers have also warned the government of not allowing the matriculation exams to take place in the province, which were scheduled from April 1. “Exams are supposed to start in two days and the police have caused so much difficulty to the teachers of Sindh. They have been injured and detained because of the police,” said one of the protesters. He also said they were not terrorists and were protesting for their rights. One of the female protestors said the police shamelessly resorted to violent means and used sticks, setting aside the fact that they were the same teachers who taught them when they were in school.