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IJT activists thrash Shia students : Security issues haunt schools

IJT activists thrash three Shia students
Lahore, March 15, 2008: About 40 to 50 Islami Jamiat Talaba activists beat three Shia PhD students after Friday prayers in the presence of Punjab University (PU) Vice Chancellor (PU) Prof Mujahid Kamran and security personnel.

The beaten students are also members of the Students Action Committee (SAC) and Insaf Student Federation, which is the students wing of Tehreek-e-Insaf. The PU IJT media secretary said the students who had beaten the SAC members were not the IJT activists.

The SAC students were gathering after Friday prayers to protest in favour of the sacked judges when IJT activists, numbered in between 40 and 50, attacked them. Most of the SAC students, who were between 10 and 15 in number, managed to flee, but IJT activists managed to get hold of three SAC students. The SAC students were beaten to the extent that they were bleeding. They (IJT activists) raised anti-Shia slogans while beating them and the reason they gave for beating them was that they were "creating fuzz".

Before the beating episode began, both IJT and SAC students had come out of the PU Central Mosque after the Friday prayers. The VC was present there when the scuffle broke out. In addition to the VC, there were between 15 to 20 security guards. The VC immediately left the place where the security guards stood by as mere spectators.

PU Registrar Dr Naeem Ahmed Khan said, "It is a sad incident and PU Estate Officer Muhammad Saleem has been suspended for being unable to keep things under control."

The three students beaten were identified as Amir Jalal, Haroon Riaz and Sajjad Gul, all PhD students of biological sciences. The other SAC members later said that the event showed how the IJT controlled the university and could beat anyone even in the presence of the VC and security.

Jalal said, "It is the brazenness of the IJT activists, who indulged in hooliganism in the presence of the VC and security guards. SAC will launch a campaign against this vandalism."

Ahsan, a PU student, said that the aggressors of the SAC members included Usman Ashraf, Amir Yaqoob, Farhat Abbas, who belonged to the IJT. "Some of them are not PU students, but living in the PU hostels," he said.

The IJT had seized its activities after protests against it about two month ago. The student organisation, however, has surfaced again after the issue of the reprinting of blasphemous caricatures. Ahsan said that the IJT was establishing itself by using the name of Islam.

PU Chairman Hall Council Dr Saeed Ahmed Nagra confirmed that the SAC students had been beaten in the presence of the PU administration. "We tried to save the students," he said.

The PU security guards said the estate officer tried to avert the incident.

PU Estate Officer Muhammad Saleem Akhtar said, "I don't care if IJT activists beat students. If someone really cares, then he or she should come and save them from the IJT."

SAC to hold protest: According to a press release issued by SAC on Friday, SAC members Amir Jalal, Haroon Riaz and Sajjad Gul were "peacefully distributing flyers pertaining to the restoration of the pre-November 3 judiciary when dozens of IJT students attacked them without any reason."

The release said that while the three were being beaten they were called "spies of agencies" and were called "Shias".

"This is not the first instance of brutality from the IJT. SAC members are continuously targeted in the PU. The student committee demands that the government should honour its promise of restoring the judiciary, so that the country could get rid of elements like the IJT," the release said.

The release also said that the committee would hold a protest outside the Lahore Press Club today (Saturday) at 4pm.

SAC member Rizwan Ahmed, a student at the FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, condemned the IJT and said FAST students would participate in the protest. Daily Times

Security issues haunt govt, schools
Lahore: Provision of security to schoolchildren in the wake of growing terrorism and suicide attacks and a workable solution in this regard have become a challenge for educational institutions.

The security concerns, especially for schools in private sector, are a challenge for the government too. The government finds it difficult to cater to a large number of private and state run schools in this connection.

The educational institutions, particularly chains of the private sector schools, do not want heavy deployment of armed police outside their premises. They say this move will create an atmosphere of fright for the children and their parents.

Referring to traditional Thana Culture in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, they said people in general do not feel comfortable in the presence of police.

"Unfortunately, police are a symbol of fear, not of security for the common man," said a representative of a private school on condition of anonymity.

He said there were fears among the stakeholders that heavy police deployment could also prove dangerous, as usually security agencies had been terrorists' targets in the City.

According to sources, a similar stance was taken by representatives of various private schools in a meeting held at the Education department on Thursday. High-ups of the Police department and the Home department attended the mot.

A senior Education department official, seeking anonymity, said it was strange that upscale private schools sought security from the department and the government despite the fact that it was not an easy job since there were thousands of schools in both public and private sector. "How can private schools be our priority if we have to cater to public schools as well," he questioned. He said it was regrettable that most of the private schools completely rely on the government despite the fact these schools had handsome financial resources.

"Most of these schools charge handsome fees and other charges and that they must invest in security too instead of depending on the government," he said.

It is to be noted that majority of the private schools had announced holidays after the March 11 attacks in the City as parents of most of the students were reluctant to send their children to the schools. On the other hand, students' attendance in schools, which were open, was thin.

In the wake of the twin suicide bombings in the City on Tuesday, security agencies have begun searching pick-ups since this kind of vehicles were used in the bombing. This searching has become a problem for the educational institutions as most use such vehicles for transportation purpose.

Representatives of various schools and stakeholders said administrations of the educational institutions were adopting all possible measures to improve security. They said hundred per cent security could not be ensured anyway.

Most of them believed that the situation could not be improved unless a political solution to the problem was found. They argued that instead of finding out short-term solution to the problem, a permanent one should be found out.

"This is only possible through a dialogues process", said one of the principals, who did not wish to be named. He added there were great expectations from the coming government to root out such elements from the country. The News
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