Balochistan chief minister announces dismissal of police official caught on video misbehaving with protesters
The Balochistan government has dismissed a superintendent of police who was caught on video “misbehaving” with protesting students demanding better internet access so they could avail online university classes during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“No student arrest was ordered by the government,” said Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan on Twitter. “It was [the result of] a quarrel among police and students in which police acted and arrested,” he said, adding that all the arrested students had been released from custody. In a subsequent post, the chief minister said that the superintendent of police had been removed from his post and “appropriate action” would be taken against a lady constable who had mishandled the situation.
The chief minister’s statement stands in contrast to an earlier statement issued by government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani in which he had alleged the students were “temporarily detained for their own safety” because there was risk of COVID-19 spreading among the protesters. “They [students] have every right to protest and raise voices for their demands… [but] Section 144 has been imposed [in the province] to prevent people from gathering to safeguard them as part of coronavirus SOPs,” he added.
Around two-dozen students were arrested in Quetta on Wednesday while protesting for better access to internet services so they could attend online classes for universities and schools. The students have maintained for weeks that between loadshedding and a lack of fast internet, they are being denied their right to education during the pandemic.
Police claimed the students were taken into custody because they were organizing a rally while the city had imposed a complete ban on every kind of public gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After the arrest, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had condemned the move and demanded they be released. Amnesty International had also reacted to the detention of students and demanded their release.