Islamia College University students protest

Peshawar Police baton-charge Islamia College students
Peshawar, Jan 14: The University Campus Police baton-charged the protesting students of Islamia College University (ICU) here Wednesday for the second consecutive day, causing injuries to several of them while scores of students were arrested.

The students were protesting against the university administration for not allowing them to appear in the annual examination due to attendance shortage.The admission forms for annual examination were not accepted from the intermediate students having less than 75 per cent attendance. The students were also fined.

The intermediate students staged protest on the premises of the university on Tuesday. The university administration had called police to deal with the situation, which resorted to indiscriminate baton-charge and firing of teargas shells to disperse the students.

When former president of the Teaching Staff Association, Izhar Ahmad, tried to save the students, he was also allegedly tortured and abused by police, which further aggravated the situation.

On Wednesday, the students came out more vigorously to face the brunt of police. A hide and seek between police and the students continued right from the morning till evening. At times the students came on the main Jamrud Road and blocked it for all kinds of traffic.

Despite using full might to disperse the students, police failed to control the situation. The students continued to gather in small number at different places in the university almost the whole day to chant slogans against the university administration and pelt the university building as well as police with stones. Equipped with riot-shields, batons and teargas shooters, police followed the students to beat them up and try to arrest them.

Scores of the students sustained injuries and others were arrested. The teachers and other staff of the university, concerned over the situation, convened the executive body meetings of their respective associations later in the evening to discuss the situation.

The meetings condemned the police and university administration's attitude and the maltreatment of the students, a teacher and a laboratory attendant. The teachers condemned the police for not registering case against Station House Officer Waqar, who had allegedly manhandled and abused Izhar Ahmad, a teacher of the Botany Department of the university.

The meeting declared that the general body meeting of the teaching staff association, class-III and class-IV association would be held in the Khyber Union Hall of the university today (Thursday), followed by a protest against the alleged police excesses.

Meanwhile, the Islamia College University administration closed the intermediate section of the university for an indefinite period. The graduate and postgraduate sections would, however, remain open.

Talking to media Vice-Chancellor of the ICU Ajmal Khan said the university had an established criterion for admission to examination. Those who do not fulfil the criteria could not be allowed to appear in the examination, he said, adding that they would not succumb to any pressure and would not compromise on rules.

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Islamia College renovation
Peshawar: Shiny marble tiles have replaced the century-old brick-made floor and stairs of the historic Islamia College which is being renovated and repaired.

Besides the main building of the college established in 1913, the repair and renovation of the domes of Islamia College mosque is also in progress with conservationists fearing it is tantamount to damaging the originality.

Almost all the floors, stairs and border of main building have been renovated by placing marble slabs replacing the decades-old Waziri bricks. Moreover, the original design of the stairs has been changed. Though the wooden floor of Roos-Keppel Hall has not been replaced but being polished and walls repaired in its original brick shape.

Sources said some engineers had suggested to government recently that irrigation channels within the college were causing structural problems but they failed to chalk out comprehensive conservation procedures for improving the situation. The government approved money for structural reinforcements and water proofing the immediate surroundings and roofs of the college.

Executive Engineer (XEN) of Islamia College and contractor brought some masons from the Punjab for the construction but the sources said they had no experience of domes building. Not only the masons, but site in-charge of the contractor who is restoring the college building has no previous experience and has a master's degree in Urdu, claimed the sources.

By visiting the college one can especially notice lighter colour and bulged uneven domes at the right side of the college. All newly plastered domes are of different colours. Bulges and unevenness of three domes is visible from different angles.

It would have been better had the college administration concentrated on just repairing the damaged portions and water proofed the buildings from top and bottom with least alterations as Islamia College (now Islamia College University) is among the world heritage buildings, said the sources.

Neither the college management nor the contractors have kept in mind the conservation manual, which prohibits experiments on priceless and irreplaceable heritage sites.

Some local masons of NWFP have built extremely proportional and symmetrical domes of some of the newly built mosques and other grand structures and hiring their services could have saved this historical building from reshaping.

The original stairs had curvy sides which were flowing to the bottom as integral part of the original architecture and double pointed arches of the verandahs, which have been rebuilt with square edged marble that do not blend with the original structure of the building.

Conservationists fear the world historic Islamia College buildings would lose its heritage importance if its originality were not preserved.

Mahmood Aslam, an environmentalist and conservationist from Abbottabad is among those trying to save the historical and heritage assets from destruction. He visited the college to persuade the management to keep intact the originality of the buildings but in vain.

Dr Adil Zareef of the Sarhad Conservation Network (SCN) said the college should be declared a national heritage site and further construction on the premises be stopped. "It's a unique structure and the premises having sprawling lawns should not be congested with new constructions. Preservation experts should be invited if any repair is needed in the buildings," he added.

He appealed to the government to declare Islamia College a national heritage only then Unesco and other organisations would come for its preservation.

Islamia College University Director Works Abid Kamal said they had tried their best to preserve originality of the structure. According to engineering point of view, bricks have maximum age of 50 years and could not be sustained for longer that's why the old Waziri brick floors were replaced with marbles tiles, he said.

The official said a committee having conservation and archaeology experts, professors from the Engineering University and Tourism Department was monitoring the work and had appreciated its standard.

He said the main building was fully renovated in its original shape and colour while marbles had been placed on floors, as repair with bricks was not possible. The masons brought from Punjab were dome experts as their forefathers had expertise in dome building and they would repair the mosque domes as well, he added.

The official claimed to have received appreciation letters from many conservationists for keeping intact the originality of the structure while renovating the college.

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PkSO activists slamed quota system
Quetta: The Pakhtunkhwa Students Organisation has said that merit should be the sole criterion for admission in educational institutions.

PkSO activists made the demand during a protest they held outside the press club here on Tuesday against the quota system in the education institutions of Balochistan. The news

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