Students in Balochistan demand access to the Internet as universities conduct online lectures

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Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) endeavour to introduce online classes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic received an unwelcomed criticism in Balochistan. Baloch students took the roads and organized hunger-strikes to condemn this initiative and to demand the required facilities.

According to The Balochistan Post news desk, HEC’s initiative of the online classes has been a subject of criticism among the Baloch students. On June 12, students in Turbat carried out a protest rally against the online classes and reproached this initiative as an act of “animosity” with education and a “conspiracy against Balochistan.”

The protestors carried placards and banners that bore messages like: “Do the poor don’t have the right to education?” and “HEC should resolve issues of online classes and fees.” The students said that the online classes are a pretext for wasting this academic year, as the lack of facilities and the internet barres the Baloch students of participating in them.

Baloch Student Organization (BSO) Turbat Zone also organized a three-day hunger strike against the online classes and the HEC’s policies. The chairman of the BSO Turbat zone, Azeem Baloch, senior deputy chairman Kareem Shambay, deputy chairman Ikhtiyar Jawad and a others were present in the hunger-strike camp.

BSO’s hunger-strike in Turbat

The protestors said that they are not against the online classes, but that they can’t participate in them due to the lack of internet facilities, which puts their entire future at stake. The students said that they remind the HEC that the protests will amplify if their needs are not met.

In Karachi, the student alliance had launched a three-day hunger strike on 9 June against online classes and fees that ended yesterday. Baloch Students Action Committee (BSAC), a participating student organization, said in a statement that they and their allied student organizations consider it a legal right to protest against the online classes. They further said that they will actuate this right to accelerate the protests in future.

Protest in Karachi

The aforesaid students also clarified that they are not against online classes, but that they should be provided with the required facilities.

Protests and demonstrations are being carried out in Quetta and other cities of Balochistan as well.

It is pertinent to mention that the authorities have suspended access to the internet in various regions of Balochistan for years citing security reasons.

Baloch political organisations claim the suspension is to bar them from dispensing information regarding human rights violations in Balochistan.

The nationalist organisations claim that the internet inaccessibility is an attempt of the Pakistani state to thwart social media activism and to conceal the perpetrated human rights abuses in Balochistan.


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