The police in Bechem on Tuesday morning allegedly opened fire and tear gas to disperse demonstrating students of the St. Joseph College of Education (JOSCO) when the students staged a peaceful demonstration to register their displeasure over their 13-month unpaid allowances.
According to an eyewitness, who is a tutor in the college, the students woke up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning chanting war songs in a peaceful protest over their unpaid allowances.
The tutor disclosed that the demonstration was peaceful until he heard gunshots by the police personnel on the school campus.
He said the demonstration was the third of its kind to be staged on the campus but no damage was caused by the student so he was surprised the police came in to the school to fight the students.
The teacher accused the police for acting unprofessionally thereby creating unnecessary tension on the campus. According to him, the firing of firearms created inconvenience for the teaching and non teaching staff living on the campus with their families.
One student, whose name was given as Ishmael Assan who was not among the demonstrators but beaten by the police, was said to be in critical condition at the Duayaw Nkwanta St. John of God Hospital.
Several other students also suffered various degrees of injuries after they were reportedly beaten by the police personnel who were called in by the principal of the college to maintain law and order.
The students accused their principal and the Student Representative Council (SRC) for inciting the police against them. They expressed worry over the away the police used guns, tear gas and sticks on them.
One of the students who spoke to Daily Guide on condition of anonymity said about three weeks ago they embarked on a peaceful demonstration at the campus, where the District Chief Executive for Tano South, Bukari Zakari Anaba, promised them that he would make sure their allowances were paid before the end of the month.
According to him, since it was getting to the end of the month they decided to remind the authorities about it because most of their colleagues in other sister colleges have received their accumulated allowances.
Efforts to reach the college’s Principal, Cecilia Quansah, proved futile as numerous calls to her phone were not answered.
Other school authorities were also tight lipped and declined to comment on the matter.
Information gathered also stated that the principal was whisked away by the police when the students realised she had called in the police to salvage the situation, which led to the alleged brutalization of the students.
The Tano South District Police commander was not available to speak.
Source: Vivianna Mensah, Sunyani
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