Chronology: 1950s’ student movement (DSF, ICB, APSO)

DJ college gathering

Jan 8, 1953: Thousands of students gather at DJ College for 'Martyrs Day', to protest the Jan 7 police firing and tear gas shelling. Photo courtesy Sartaj Alam, a student and amateur photographer, Student Herald.

1948 – Sarwar joins Dow Medical College

1949 – Students hold small meetings to organise themselves (Sarwar, Hashmi, Zain Alavi and others).

1950 – Dow students form Democratic Students’ Federation

1951 – Students from Karachi colleges get together to form the Inter-Collegiate Body (ICB)

October 16, 1951: Liaquat Ali Khan assassinated in Rawalpindi; Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin takes over as second Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad becomes Governor General.

Oct 17 1952 – ICB letter to Education Minister Fazlur Rahman requesting audience so they could place student demands before him (fee reductions, monthly fee structure rather than six month deposit, library and hostel facilities – and security of employment).

Dec 4, 1952 – Meetings at all colleges to pass resolutions demanding basic rights, asking Education Minister to meet ICB representatives

3-Student mtg 1951 or 52

Sarwar addressing a meeting at Theosophical Hall; seated: M.R.A. Hashmi; circa 1951 or '52

Jan 7 1953 – Demands Day, 10 am, 5000 students gather at DJ College, including High School Students Federation following govt refusal to meet students; incensed at report that govt. meeting ‘student reps’ – Qamaruzzaman of the US- and govt-backed World University Service (WUS). Defying Section 144 and police tear gas students march to Education Minister’s house; police resort to tear gassing and firing; Some students died in police firing; Interior Minister Gurmani’s car (dark green Packard) burnt near Paradise Cinema; Sarwar and other students arrive to prevent police arresting some students; police lets students go. Students reach Education Minister’s house through various routes; police arrest student leaders; hundreds of students sit in dharna & refuse to move till their release; Dist. Magistrate Z.A. Hashmi forced to order their release.

Later in the evening Education Minister met ICB delegation in the presence of VC Haleem. Two hours of discussion; promised to look into demands – seen as a victory but students did not trust him.

Jan 8 1953 – 10,000 students assemble at DJ College for Martyrs Day and begin a ‘mile long’ peaceful procession. High schools complete strike in protest at police action of previous day. Police firing kills 8 students, including several high school students, plus four passersby. Three-day curfew imposed

Jan 9, 1953 – Miscreants loot wine shops and ammunition shops despite curfew; police and administration ‘allow’ the looting and rioting – compared to the crackdown on the students’ peaceful procession.

27 people lost their lives in these three days, over 400 injured, 1000 arrested (according to Students’ Herald).

Jan 9-10  – Student strikes & protests in Dhaka, Lahore, Sukkur, Pano Aqil, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Lyallpur, Montgomery (Massive protest in Dhaka against police action in Karachi, complete strike in all educational institutions of the city, 20,000 strong procession; Lahore students complete and spontaneous strike, 20,000 at ‘ghaibana namaz janaza’) – Students’ Herald.

Jan 14, 1953 – Protest day observed, including in East Pakistan

ICB delegation meets Prime Minister who accepts most of their demands

Jan 26: General body meetings held at colleges all over Karachi marking end of 19-day struggle; Liaqat Medical College Hyderabad students meeting resolution against police action, token strike.

Students decide to hold a national convention; Sarwar appointed Chairman Convention for All Pakistan Students’ Convention

Feb 1953 – High School Student Federation (led by Saghir Ahmed) victorious as Matric students win demands – reduction of exam fees, grace marks for deserving candidates and supplementary exams every year – after three years of persistent struggle, arrest of five hunger-striking students.

Feb 16 1953 – Inquiry committee into Jan. firing incidents announced

To gather support for the forthcoming All Pakistan Students’ Convention, ICB delegation tours Pakistan.

Feb 18, 1953 – ICB delegation leaves by Khyber Mail for Multan after meeting with Gurmani Minister of Interior (re inquiry committee to demand suspension, removal and transfer of officials concerned). Delegates include: Syed Iqbal Ahmed (VP, SM College), Moizuddin Farooqui (GS, Urdu College), Khawja Adil Ahmed (GS, Law College), Sarwar (Chairman Convention); starts visits to Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Lyallpur.

Feb 19 – ICB delegation arrival in Multan*, met by Principal of Nishtar Medical College, addressed Nishtar & Emmerson College students. Jamiat attempts to disrupt meeting and distribute slanderous handbills.

Feb 20 – Multan Students Federation formed, Maqbool Aziz convenor

Feb 20 – ICB delegation departure for Lahore, met office bearers of Muslim Students Federation, DSF, Lahore College Unions Organisation; “visited practically every college of Lahore” (Sarwar)

Feb 21, 1953 – (third year of) Colonial Youth Day in solidarity with struggles of youth in colonial countries (M.R.A. Hashmi’s statement in Students’ Herald , March 9, 1953 issue protesting Dawn editorial ‘Curious’ of Feb 25, 1953 casting aspersions on the sponsors)

Feb 26 – ICB deldates arrival in Rawalpindi, Gordon College

Sarwar leaves for Lyallpur, the other three for Peshawar

Student activism throughout the year around the country; concerted campaign against ICB by Jamiat, accusing them of ‘ousting Islam and smuggling in Communism’

Dow Medical College meeting – Sarwar’s challenge: “Bring the signatures of 30% students of my college against me and I shall resign” – spoke for 3 hours, answered questions

April 9, 1953 – 10 students from Dacca University and 6 students from Dacca College dismissed, following Dacca University Executive Council amendment to University rules banning strikes or student meetings (Report from Dacca in Students’ Herald May 3 1953)

Mid-April, 1953: – Violent anti-Ahmadi movement started in Punjab by the Ahrar, patronized by Chief Minister Punjab Mian Mumtaz Daultana (student movement response?)

April 17, 1953, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad dismisses Khawaja Nazimuddin, appoints Mohammad Ali Bogra as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

April 25 – Protest Day throughout E. Bengal by Student Action Committee (Report from Dacca in Students’ Herald May 3 1953)

July 1953 – ICB delegation Dhaka & Chittagong visits

September 16, 1953Students’ Herald demands reinstatement of Sind Muslim College teachers Prof. Faridi, Lecturer in Chemistry & Dr A.H. Hamdani, Lecturer in Islamic History. Prof Faridi was charged with writing ‘undesirable comments and criticisms’ against the Editorial Board of the fortnightly ‘Educationist’ (though the comments were unattributed). Dr Hamdani was dismissed for having overstayed his leave by four days while attending the World Teachers’ Conference in Vienna.

Dec 25 1953 – Katrak Hall Convention, All Pakistan Student Organisaton formed; Section 144 imposed

Feb  1954 – Baghdad Pact signed, assuring military aid for Pakistan.

March 8-11, 1954 – Provincial elections in East Pakistan. The opposition “Huq-Bhashani-Suhrawardy United (Jugtu) Front” won almost all the seats, defeating the Muslim League decisively. Students played a leading role in the elections. Two of them, Qamaruz Zaman and Abdul Matin got elected to the Assembly, the former defeating the Chief Minister, Nurul Amin.

May 30, 1954 – United Front government dismissed and governor’s rule (Iskandar Mirza) imposed in East Pakistan

First round of arrests in Karachi: Sarwar arrested along with other prominent Party and trade union members, heralding an anti-communist witch-hunt in the wake of the US-Pak Military Pact and as a pre-cursor to the political changes that followed, leading to the take-over, first, by Iskandar Mirza and, later, by Ayub Khan.

June 1954 – Second wave of arrests including Mohammad Akhtar (Sarwar’s elder brother), M. A. Shakoor, Eric Rahim, Ahmad Hasan, Tufail Ahmad Khan and Mihaj Barna, along with other activists, such as Anis Hashmi, Iqbal Alavi and Zubair Ahmad.

July 1954 – Third wave of arrests, mostly of students, including Ayub Mirza, Jamal Naqvi, Wilayat Ali, Wasi Ahmad Hai,  S.M. Naseem, Ghalib Lodhi, Adeeb Rizvi and Afzal Sherwani.

October 24, 1954: Malik Ghulam Muhammad dissolves the Constituent Assembly of Muhammad Ali Bogra on the grounds that it had ‘lost the confidence of the people’, and declares a state of emergency in the country.

November 7, 1954: The Federal Court, presided by Justice Munir, upheld the dissolution of the dismissed Constituent Assembly, Justice Cornelius dissenting. The hearing was in response to a writ petition filed by Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the Speaker of in Sind Chief Court, challenging the dissolution. The infamous “doctrine of state necessity” was invoked for the first time in this case.

March 5, 1955 – Justice Z. H. Lari of Sind Chief Court accepts the habeas corpus petition for the release of S. M. Naseem, filed by his father, S. M. Hafeez, a lawyer. On the same grounds all other prisoners were released after their lawyers petitioned the court (Lari, a Muslim League leader in UP who migrated to Pakistan is considered to be a pioneer of judicial activism in Pakistan).

May 1955 – Sarwar among last to be released from prison (received his medical degree in jail)

August 11, 1955: Chaudhary Muhammad Ali appointed the new Prime Minister.

October 16, 1955: Malik Ghulam Muhammad succeeded by Iskander Mirza

March 23, 1956: Pakistan’s status as a dominion changed into an Islamic Republic, with the enforcement of the first constitution in the country. According to this the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan turned into an interim National Assembly.

Oct 7, 1958: President Iskander Mirza abrogated the Constitution and declared Martial Law. General Muhammad Ayub Khan, the then Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces became the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA).

One Response

  1. […] In 1950, a group of students in Karachi formed a progressive student organisation called the Democratic Students Federation (DSF). The organisation’s rapid growth led it to becoming a powerful platform for the students, and it was this initiative that instigated the country’s first widespread student movement.  […]

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