By Waseem Ashraf Butt
GUJRAT, Feb 13: Nearly 500 students of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Main Bazaar, Kharian, on Friday blocked the national highway for more than two hours against the demolition of some of their classrooms by the Kharian Tehsil Municipal Administration and Revenue Department.
Reports said that the school council (of the school in question) had built some classrooms at the first floor on a self-help basis some time ago. Nazar Gondal, the owner of a house adjacent to the school, objected to the new construction since it affected the air-conditioning system of his house.
Witnesses said that Kharian Deputy District Officer (Revenue) Zahid Sohail who had just assumed the charge two days ago along with the TMO, police and other staff visited the Government Girl’s Higher Secondary School on Thursday night and started raising the roof of the newly-constructed classrooms. Area people contacted PML-N’s Gujrat district president Malik Hanif Awan, whose nephew Malik Jamil Awan is the MNA from the constituency comprising Kharian and Sara-i-Alamgeer tehsils, and apprised him of the illegal action by the administration.
Hanif Awan along with his supporters reached the spot at night and forcibly stopped the demolition of the classrooms and warned the officials to get ready to face the music.
On Friday around 500 girls took out a protest rally from the school which culminated at the national highway in front of the tehsil courts. They blocked traffic between Lahore and Rawalpindi for more than two hours.
Students of the Government Degree College for Boys also joined the demonstration and burnt tyres.
A heavy contingent of police led by Kharian DSP Sultan Miran reached the spot. Policemen manhandled some journalists busy in covering the protest.
Extra assistant settlement officer Rai Manzoor Nasir and the DSP held negotiations with the representatives of protesters and promised to redress their grievances.
Sources told Dawn that Nazar Gondal, whose daughter is said to be an officer in the United Nations Organization, utilized her influence on the Punjab bureaucracy to get the classrooms demolished. Sources said a top bureaucrat of Punjab directed the Gujrat DCO to do the needful, who deputed DDO Revenue and TMO to accomplish the operation.
Meanwhile Sadar Kharian police have registered a case against DDO Revenue Zahid Sohail, TMO Rashid Gormala, tehsildar Nadeem Masood and 10 others under the sections 147, 149, 440 and 109 of the PPC on the report of Malik Akhtar Awan, convener of the school council and the general councilor of the area and started investigation.
The DDO revenue who assumed the charge a few days ago has been made officer on special duty by the Punjab government. The teachers and the students of the school have meanwhile urged the Punjab chief Minister to order a probe into the matter and take stern action against the responsible officials.