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Students Leading Protests Against On-Campus Exams Arrested In Early Morning Raid

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Reports indicate that a number of student leaders in Lahore have been arrested in early morning raids by authorities.

Sources informed Naya Daur Media that five students have so far been arrested this morning by police, some of who appeared in uniform and others in plainclothes. Those arrested include Zubair Siddiqui, Lahore President of the Progressive Students’ Collective (PSC), as well as Salman Sikandar, who is Information Secretary of the same students’ organization.

Zubair Siddiqui had just two days earlier obtained bail, after being arrested during protests at the University of Management and Technology (UMT). He had also been injured during the crackdown on students at UMT, and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

The students’ current whereabouts are unknown at the time of filing this story. Efforts are now underway to locate the students in custody and provide them with legal assistance.

Since last week, students from both public and private universities have come out in protests against the policy of holding physical examinations during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. A demand for online examinations has been gaining steam. Students have pointed out the difficulties that they faced during online classes throughout the year, as well as their difficulties in finding accommodation or internet access throughout the year. They also state that universities, especially private ones, be prevented from charging any further fees from students, since they had already received very few academic services through the year. Protests last week ended up at the Governor’s House in Lahore, where police eventually threatened students with charges of terrorism if they did not quit the protest.

Protests escalated this week and authorities responded with force: police baton charged students outside the University of Management and Technology (UMT) and private guards alongside police beat students at the University of Central Punjab (UCP). Violence also broke out during attempts to disperse students at Faisalabad campuses.

Student organizations have been calling for a “Day of Action” in support of their demands, scheduled for the 29th of January.

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