By Zulfiqar Ahmad
ISLAMABAD: The administration of the new Upper Chitral district seemed to be a silent spectator to the presence of armed guards from University of Chitral (UoC) who have taken 16 staff, including three females, at the subdivisional education officer (SDEO) female’s office in Booni almost hostage for about two weeks.
But following a story in ChitralToday on May 3, Chitral University management called back eight of the 11 armed guards leaving behind only three guards and three officials who are still occupying a room of the SDEO female office.
When contacted, the first Deputy Commissioner Upper Chitral Shah Saud said he was aware of the issue as the SDEO female had brought it into his notice.
To a question about negligence of the administration which is not taking any action against the gun totting armed guards of UoC Project Director (PD) Prof Badsha Muneer, he said he would send the assistant commissioner to the site to look into matter.
Later in the evening, the station house officer (SHO) of police station Booni along with a constable visited the SDEO office on the orders of the deputy commissioner and summoned both the parties to appear before the DC on Tuesday.
Earlier, the district administration had agreed to postpone the matter for a month on the request of the PD Chitral University without paying any heed to the ‘threat’ faced by the SDEO female office staff, especially females who have been forced to restrict their movements within a room of the office.
According to the minutes of a meeting that took place at DC office a couple days ago, copy of the minutes available with ChitralToday, the PD UoC had said that he would be in a position to submit a reply in a “couple of months,” a willful attempt to further linger the issue.
Talking to ChitralToday on telephone, female teachers of different schools working under the SDEO Booni threatened to stage a protest demonstration if the armed guards were not removed within few days.
They said they would lock down their schools in protest and would march to Booni along with girl students of their respective schools.
Talking to this correspondent, former MPA Ghulam Muhammad confirmed that the building belonged to the education department and it was given to SBBU Booni campus as a stopgap arrangement.
He also said that the building had been damaged in floods and he had released Rs0.5 million for its renovation and handed it over to SBBU Booni on a temporary basis.
Senator Samina Saeed of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Isnaf (PTI) in Islamabad also expressed anger over the attitude of the PD UoC for ‘harassing’ the female staff through his armed guards and lack of action by the administration.
She said she would talk to the concerned officers, including Commissioner Malakand Division, besides taking up the matter in the upper house of parliament as nobody would be allowed to ‘disrespect and terrorize’ the female officers.