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Allama Iqbal Medical College student's death issue

Did AIMC hush-up girl's death?
Lahore, Apr 08: The administration of the Allama Iqbal Medical College (AIMC) has been accused of covering up the death of Abeera Shahid, a fourth year student, who was killed during an outstation research tour under mysterious circumstances. According to the administration, Abeera's death was "an accident", but her family insists the college tried to hush up the issue and did not lodge a complaint with the police to probe the matter.

The parents of the deceased were reportedly pressurised into not taking any action and told that any action would bring a bad name to both the family and the institution.

Students have alleged that the young man accused in the matter is still enrolled in the college and the administration had not taken any action against him, rather going out of their way to protect an individual, who reportedly, is the son of a senior bureaucrat.

Abeera's relatives and fellow students have demanded that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry take suo motu action so that the death of an innocent girl does not go unpunished.

Sequence of events: Sources in the AIMC administration said that Abeera went to an outstation research tour with the head of the college's research committee and another fourth year student, Umair Mushtaq, on February 20, 2010.

They chose to travel in Umair's car instead of requesting a college van.

Sources also disclosed that the students left in the morning but did not return until late in the evening. Abeera's body was brought to the hospital by Rescue 1122 personnel.

It was also learnt that Umair is son of an influential bureaucrat, belongs to a wealthy family and drives a Toyota Corolla with an official (green) number plate. There are various rumours circulating regarding the circumstances surrounding Abeera's death. Some even claim that Abeera's body was found in Umair's car, which was parked inside college premises, while others say Umair had abandoned her and fled the scene of the crime.

Several students, requesting anonymity, said that Umair was the head of the college's research committee and had taken Abeera to some place situated near Sheikhupura Road saying that they were going there to conduct research on some health-related issue.

They said the administration, headed by Principal Prof Dr Javed Akram, had warned all students to "keep their mouths shut" about the incident to avoid facing tough disciplinary action.

They stated that the college principal had also launched an internal inquiry over the issue but its findings were not revealed to the students.

There is also confusion regarding who accompanied Umair and Abeera on that fateful day, because most of the students said the two were not alone.

Abeera's family members abstained from commenting on the issue.

However, a close relative of the victim's family said that the administration had given them four different accounts of how Abeera died.

He said the principal visited their house and told them that the death was "just an accident".

"First they said the car skidded and Abeera fell outside through the windscreen. Then they said the car accidentally hit the divider and she received serious head injury causing her death, then they claimed that a tyre burst and the car went out of control severely injuring her and the final story they fed us was that a door accidentally opened when the car was being driven at very high speed causing Abeera to fall outside," the relative said.

He said Abeera was very precious to them so the family did not want to make the issue public, adding that the woman who administered Abeera's last rites told the family that there were scratches on Abeera's face and body.

The relative also added that Umair and his parents came to their house and met Abeera's parents and begged for forgiveness.

However, Dr Javed Akram said that the college administration had nothing to do with the incident. The principal said Umair and Abeera were having an affair and had gone on the tour without informing the administration. When asked about the condition of Abeera's body and why he had not filed for an autopsy, he said whatever action he took, he took it at the request of Abeera's family.

He also said he had launched an inquiry into the incident, adding that the committee's findings agreed with their account of events.

He said that despite being the head of the research committee, Umair was not authorised to conduct any research without informing the college.

Akram called the incident "an accident", adding that Umair was still in hospital, recovering from his injuries.

He said the two were having an affair and several students had informed the administration that the girl claimed she was going to marry Umair.

Umair's father, Mushtaq, who is currently the Nankana Sahib executive district officer (Health) said that he had nothing to say on issue, adding that his son would be the best person to talk to.

However, Umair and his family abstained from commenting on the issue as Umair neither met the scribe in person nor did he respond to any of his telephone calls.

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"Administration is trying to hide the truth, let the public know the truth.."
Name: Shehnaz
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan

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Non-payment of salaries, increments sparks new controversy at KC
Lahore: Contractually employed Kinnaird College (KC) teachers who were sacked by the Board of Governors (BoG) last year and later reinstated by the Lahore High Court (LHC) have alleged that KC Principal Dr Bernadette Dean is 'persecuting' them by freezing their salaries and not giving them increments on their revised contracts.

The teachers alleged that Dr Dean had revised the salary packages of all faculty members in 2010 and had awarded increments to her "favourite teachers", depriving those who had protested against her. They also claimed that the reinstated teachers had not been paid their salaries, and that the principal knew about this.

No idea: However, KC Principal Dr Dean said she was not aware the teachers had not been paid and that no faculty member had contacted her about the matter. She said the contracts had been revised according to the institute's policy and without any discrimination, adding that no teacher had been targeted.

Protest: The teachers that were sacked by the KC principal last year on December 23 are set to start a fresh campaign against her for not being paid their salaries and the revised contracts issue.

Last year, Dr Dean sacked four regular and three contractual teachers, a move after which a campaign was launched by teachers and students to show their concern about the sacking of the seven teachers. These seven faculty members were among those who had opposed the appointment of KC's first-ever registrar, Dr Naima Khurshid.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the issue and formed an inquiry tribunal to submit a report to him on the matter. Later, the LHC restored all regular and contractual t teachers on January 22.

The CM's inquiry tribunal presented its report later supported by Higher Education Department's recommendations in which they advised the CM that both the registrar and principal should be removed from their positions and that these posts should be advertised.

The recommendations were also sent to the KC BoG for implementation, however the KC registrar submitted her resignation on March 19. The situation calmed down after that, only to heat up again as teachers are set to campaign against the salary and discrimination issue.

Restart: A number of KC faculty members on Wednesday said they would launch protests against the principal. A contractual teacher, Zarina Rizvi, said she had been restored to her position by the LHC, but "after being restored, KC did not pay me my salary for four months, even when other contractual teachers were getting paid".

She said she had lodged a complain with KC BoG Chairman Dr Alexnader John Malik, but she was still not paid for the four months.

Sadaf Munir, another contractual teacher, said Dr Dean was "targeting" her, and had not revised her salary package. "I have an MPhil degree and according to college policy, all MPhil degree holders are getting Rs 40,000, but in my new contract I am still getting Rs 29,000," she said.

Contempt notice: Another faculty member said the teachers were planning to file a contempt notice against the principal and would start a protest against Dr Dean, "as she is still in office even though the Higher Education Department recommended the BoG remove her".

Dr Dean said the KC BoG had revised teachers' packages according to the criteria for MA, MPhil and PhD-qualified faculty members and that they had set a salary structure. "The salary packages of all contractual teachers were revised on merit and in accordance with the college's rules and no teacher has been targeted," she said, adding that the teachers should have called on her if they were not paid, "but no one registered their grievances". Daily times

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