PU teachers boycott classes, stage protest

LAHORE:A number of Punjab University (PU) teachers boycotted their classes on the call of PU Academic Staff Association (PUASA) and protested outside the office of Vice-Chancellor for the acceptance of their demands on Thursday.

Of 1,000 plus faculty members, less than 50 teachers were seen in the protest outside the VC office. Those who attended the demo included Academic Staff Association (ASA) office-bearers as well as members of the PU Senate, Syndicate and heads of various departments.

Speaking on the occasion, PUASA President Dr Azhar Naeem, Secretary Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi, Syndicate members Dr Sardar Asghar Iqbal and Dr M Islam said that legitimate demands of teachers had been pending for a long time. They alleged that the Vice Chancellor was constantly refusing to accept the very legitimate and legal demands of the teachers. They demanded that the decisions of the PU Senate and the Syndicate be implemented in their true spirit. During this time, many methods of peaceful protest were adopted but university administration did not pay heed to teachers’ demands. At the previous general body meeting, ASA had set out a protest strategy. A black day was also observed in all campuses of Punjab University with teachers wearing black armbands.

They said that the administration adopted a dictatorial approach and tried to thwart Thursday’s boycott. They added despite this, teachers in Jhelum, Gujranwala, Old Campus New Campus boycotted classes on Thursday as a protest.

PUASA President Dr Azhar Naeem, who is also FPUASA Punjab President, said that a joint press conference of PUASA and FPUASA would be held soon outside the Vice Chancellor’s Office in which the future course of action will be announced and the scope of protest will be expanded to universities across the Punjab province. The elected representatives of teachers also demanded an audit of university budget and all appointments made during the last four years.

Meanwhile, a PU spokesperson said that the teachers from all the campuses overwhelmingly rejected the protest call given by PUASA to boycott classes as all the activities of the university were held as per routine.

In a press statement, PU spokesperson Khuram Shahzad has said that out of more than 1,000 teachers of Punjab University, only around 30 teachers gathered outside the Vice Chancellor’s office to record their so-called protest.

He said that PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad visited various departments, institutes, centres, colleges and schools where classes were being held as per schedule. He said that the footage of those visits had also been released to the media as video evidence. He said that semester examinations, Quran Quiz at Hailey College, poster competitions with Punjab AIDS Control Programme and other co-curricular activities were also organised as scheduled. He said that all the students performed lab tests and did their research work in laboratories as per routine.

The spokesperson said that the attendance of students in the departmental libraries was as usual. He said that apparently the PUASA was demanding some benefits, most of which have already been resolved by PU administration at its end but behind the scene they have some other ulterior motives and the administration understood who was controlling ASA’s strings.

Reacting over the apparent demands of ASA, the spokesperson said that it was the PU VC who talked to the Punjab Governor and other high ups to provide disparity reduction allowance (DRA) to not only PU but all the universities in Punjab. Due to PU VC’s efforts, Punjab Cabinet approved DRA for the university employees across the province.

He said that PU VC in the meeting of Senate categorically announced that the DRA would be provided to the employees from June 2021. They also have forwarded meeting minutes for approval of the governor in time. The spokesperson said that the administration had made unprecedented promotions and appointments which the university had never witnessed in the past.

The spokesman said that the number of professors and associate professors had never crossed the figure of 70 and 85 respectively and now the university had for the first time more than 150 each professors and associate professors. He said that for the first time in the last four years, there had been no victimisation and due rights had been given to the teachers and employees across the board without any prejudice. Therefore, he said, the teachers have rejected the negative politics of ASA office-bearers.

He said that for the first time the university was being run through statutory bodies and for the first time in the 50 years history of the university, the meetings of Senate and all statutory bodies had been organised as per the requirement of the university calendar.