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Harassment of KU teacher alleged

Karachi, April 5, 2008: Even as a coalition of people pressed for an investigation into the violence suffered by Dr Riaz Ahmed allegedly at the hands of Rangers personnel at the University of Karachi on March 31, teachers close to the associate professor of applied chemistry claimed that he was being harassed by the police who, they said, are being pressurised by the Rangers to pursue the case.

"On Thursday, his [Dr Ahmed's] residence was visited by the police but he was not at home," they said.

Dr Ahmed was reportedly beaten by two Rangers officials as he tried to enter the KU campus through the Silver Jubilee Gate on March 31. On April 2, Havaldar Anwarul Haq of the Sindh Rangers lodged FIR No 73/2008 under Sections 337-F(iv) (intentionally causing injury which leaves a bone exposed, a non-bailable offence punishable by up to five years' imprisonment), 353 (assault or using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty), 332 (causing hurt, including pain, injury, disability or dismemberment of an organ) and 186 (obstructing a public servant in the discharge of public functions)of the Pakistan Penal Code against the professor at the Mobina Town police station.

The general secretary of the Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts), Dr Abid Hasnain, said that after the incident, the Rangers had stated that they had detained the two officials involved in the violence. "The next day, however, they twisted the facts around and the Rangers' spokesperson denied any wrongdoing altogether," he said, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the FIR lodged by the Rangers.

Asked about his stance over the FIR lodged against Dr Ahmed, SSP Investigations East Dr Amir Shaikh said that he had issued instruction to the policemen under him to refrain from pursuing the case. When his attention was drawn towards the visit made to Dr Ahmed's house by the police on Thursday night, the SSP checked whether his orders had been followed and then said that none of his men, who belong to the investigation wing, had been involved. "Those policemen could have been from the operations wing of the police," said SSP Shaikh. "I would not go after a university professor in such a case."

Probe into incident demanded
Meanwhile, an open letter by a coalition of people was sent to various offices, including newspapers. It pointed out that the use of force to settle disputes of any kind must be condemned by all members of civil society. "The use of armed guards may be understandable in a bank or a defence establishment," noted the letter, "but the use of such guards in the fount of civil society, that is the academia, somehow indicated a basic flaw in society. The sooner it is remedied, the better."

Dr. Khurshid Ahmad (UK), Mrs Nasreen Saeedi (US), Dr Yasmin A. Zaim (US), Dr Nikhat Siddiqui (Pakistan), Dr Irfan Ahmed (Indonesia), and Dr A'amir Ahmed (England) stated in their letter out that Dr Riaz Ahmed took an active decision to serve his country and his university. "After receiving his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in the mid-1990s, he if he [had] wanted to could have worked for multinationals and universities elsewhere in the world. He is passionate about his work and the broader socio-political environment he lives in. One may not necessarily agree with him but there is no denying his commitment to his students and fellow citizens," they pointed out.

"We write, in great sorrow and considerable personal anguish, about the use of force against our brother, Riaz Ahmed," said the letter. "We would like to ask the civil authorities in Karachi, especially the University of Karachi's administration and the incoming provincial government, together with the national authorities, including the Pakistan Ministry of Higher Education, to investigate the matter thoroughly."

Black day announced
On Friday, Kuts issued a statement saying that all government universities in Sindh would observe Saturday [today] as a black day in protest against the treatment meted out to Dr Ahmed by Rangers at the University of Karachi.

Teachers will wear black armbands throughout the province's universities and, according to the statement, universities in other provinces observed a black day on Friday when teachers wore black armbands to their classes.

The statement called for an end to what it termed a 'harassment campaign' against teachers, while Kuts reiterated its earlier demand for a judicial inquiry into the incident. Dawn

Silent protest at Punjab Univerity
Lahore: The Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) on Friday held a silent protest demonstration at New Campus, condemning thrashing of a professor by Rangers personnel deputed at Karachi University a few days ago.

The demo was held on the call of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) after Jumma prayer in which PU teachers expressed their anger over the incident. The silently protesting PU faculty members were also carrying banners inscribed with different demands including action against those involved in the incident and withdrawal of police and Rangers deputed in various universities across the country.

On the occasion, a large number of PU students and employees also condemned the incident and expressed their solidarity with the teaching faculty. They expressed their anger over the manhandling of a professor by Rangers personnel.

PUASA president Dr Mumtaz Salik led the demonstration while general secretary Dr Mehar Saeed Akhtar and other office-bearers of the association were also present.

It is pertinent to mention here that after the incident, FAPUASA had given a call of protests in universities across the country.

New HU Vice Chancellor
Karachi: Chancellor Hamdard University, Senator S M Zafar, appointed Prof Dr Nasim A Khan as the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Hamdard University (HU) with effect from April 1, 2008. HU sources said the newly appointed VC has a Ph D, Ms and MSER degrees from the US varsities. The News
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