Unrest in Swat over plan to raze historical college`s building
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By Fazal Khaliq | 11/3/2015 12:00:00 AM
MINGORA: Civil society and cultural activists have reached a consensus about not allowing the demolition of the historical building of Government Post Graduate Jahanzeb College, Saidu Sharif, over cracks caused by the Oct 26 earthquake.

They insist tremors caused repairable damage to the structure put up in 1951 during the Swat state times.

Deputy commissioner Mehmood Aslam Wazir told Dawn that the building was declared unsafe by the communication and works department and therefore, it had to be pulled down.

He said the building demolition schedule would be finalised in consultation with the relevant departments.

The building has not been used by the administration for classes since Oct 26.

Teachers take classes in the college`s veranda or in tents put up on its lawns.Currently, over 4,000 students are enrolled and 150 people employed in the college.

The college with E-shaped building is the second oldest in the province after Islamia College.

Civil society and cultural activists say the iconic building is not a mere structure and instead, it tells the people especially visitors about local history, culture and civilisation.

`This is the first college built in this entire region by visionary ruler Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb, popularly known as Waali-i-Swat. It is unique not only for its historical importance but also for its structure and architecture, Usman Ulasyar, chairman of the Suvastu Arts and Culture Association, said, adding that the building had great value and charm in the region.

Ulasyar said the historic building of Islamia College Peshawar was also declared dangerous in 2004 but it was restored and conserved afterwards.

`Certain forces are working behind the scenes to demolish Jehanzeb College and Wadudia Hall Swat. The earthquake might have caused minor damage to the building but that can be fixed. The building, part of the region`s heritage, should be restored at all costs,` local social activist and education campaigner Dr Jawad Iqbal told Dawn.

He said heritage was a vital link to the region`scultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies, which quite literally made the people who they`re.

Architect and culture activist Shaukat Ali Sharar said the Jehanzeb College`s landmarl< building should not be demolished and rather it should be protected.

`There are engineering solutions to cracks and the government should go for them to protect the historical building,` he said.

He said ancient structures were given great importance throughout the world.

People threatened to agitate against the college building demolition plan.

Some even said they would initiate a `worldwide` movement for the building`s protection.

Another social activist Amjad Ali said if the administration considered the college`s main building to be weak, more storeys could be added tonearby stronger structures.

When contacted, provincial minister Mahmood Khan said he would soon speak to the chief minister and relevant bureaucrats for the protection of the college building.

`I will take up the matter with the chief minister for the rehabilitation and protection of the building, which we consider part of our heritage,` he said.

He said he would speak to the top bosses of the culture and heritage department, too, on the matter.