Arsalan Bilal, a student of Bahria University, has decided to go on a hunger strike for an indefinite time period from Friday, April 6, 2012 in front of Bahria University Headquarters, Margalla Road, Islamabad. Bilal was subjected to the most appalling form of “Academic Terrorism” on campus as he was discriminated against and victimized by Bahria University’s top management and purported academics. Arsalan Bilal was rusticated from the university on the pretext that he is psychologically unstable, and had threatened his faculty members by emailing them revolutionary poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Noon Meem Rashid.
Bilal, who has been studying on merit scholarship in that same university, believes that he was victimized for raising questions, in various discussion sessions, over the manner in which the military management and pseudo intellectuals of Bahria University were governing the institution. Moreover, Bilal was marginalized as he belonged to a minority sect, which is pervasively persecuted across the country. It is noteworthy that Bilal was repeatedly discouraged from conducting his undergraduate research on “Politicization of religion in Pakistan”.
Bilal has resolved not to call off his hunger strike until the following 14 demands are fulfilled:
1- Dignified restoration of Arsalan Bilal with apology from university’s management
2- Redress all grievances by reprimanding those responsible for committing atrocities on Bilal
3- Cessation of all kinds of discrimination on basis of race, caste, creed, religion, affiliation, etc. on campus
4- All serving military officers in the university be directed to quit their jobs and return to purely military functions
5- All retired military officers in the university be gradually supplanted by qualified civilians
6- Post of Director Campus should be occupied by a highly qualified academic
7- Purge the university of faculty members with poor track record
8- Constitute a special autonomous body of academics to ensure checks on faculty members
9- Tighten the plagiarism check policy on faculty members
10- Decision to retain faculty members should be made considering students' feedback.
11- Empower Students’ Affairs department for allaying apprehensions of students
12- Public proceedings of all cases before the discipline committee
13- Mitigate the dress code imposed on campus
14- Render more need-based scholarships to students by eliminating fee discounts for children of naval officers
Academia is suppose to be a place where we nurture creativity and encourage critical thinking. Its suppose to be a safe ground where military are not influencing any part of social consciousness. I am ASHAMED of Bahria University, an educational institute (and I use that term loosely) that deems it fit to terrorise and victimize it's students based on their religious beliefs, political beliefs and refraining them from exercising their right to question the ruling authority! Arsalan Bilal, Paksitani Education System's LATEST victim, fights for his right to be treated as an EQUAL!
Pakistan will go NOWHERE, or improve ANYTHING if it's educational system, starts getting biased, political, prejudiced and discriminatory?! Lets make sure we don't turn into another COMSATS Lahore episode?! We, the students of Pakistan, cannot continue to LET authority figures ABUSE their power over us while WE, and other like us have our RIGHTS snatched away time and time again!
We demand academic freedom for all the students and we want Arsalan Bilal to be reinstated back into university. Calling someone "mentally incompetent" will not keep them away from challenging the system. We are encouraging, students, parents, faculty, staff from all the educational institutions all across the board to let Bahria Univeristy admin know, that its UNACCEPTABLE and such behaviour will not be tolerated.
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