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Shias must pray in own hostels: PU

LAHORE, Aug 25: The Punjab University (PU) authorities on Friday decided to allow Shia students to offer prayers in their own hostels instead of praying collectively in one hostel, it was learnt.

PU registrar Dr Naeem Ahmad said the administration had decided to allow Shia students to offer prayers in their hostels. Shia students, he said, would not be allowed to pray collectively, as they had been praying collectively in the mosque of hostel-17. He said the PU administration would not allow anyone to disturb the PU atmosphere. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a press release on Friday slammed the PU administration for refusing to let Shia students pray collectively.

The HRCP criticised the PU administration on expulsion of PU Shia students. The HRCP termed this decision 'unjust'. The HRCP said it was a violation of human rights. The HRCP said the PU was not a "military garrison".

Shia students have been protesting against PU authorities for the last 20 days, as the authorities had not allowed them to offer their prayers on the campus.

On August 23 PU vice chancellor (VC) Lt Gen (r) Arshad Mehmood chaired a meeting of PU authorities. In the meeting deans and senior officials discussed the separate prayers issue. On condition of anonymity, a senior PU official said prayer was not an issue but some teachers were politicising it. He blamed both Shia students and Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) for playing in the hands of people with "vested interests". He said, "Some teachers are taking the issue as a campaign for vice chancellor ship." He said the Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA), in connection with IJT, was trying to stop the VC from taking extension for the third time.

PUASA president Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Salik said the association was not concerned with the issue. He said the PUASA was struggling to remove the military VC. He said, "Everyone should be allowed to offer his/her prayers according to his/her sect on the campus."

Imamia Students Organisation information secretary Mumtaz Ahmad said a large number of Shia students had offered their asr prayers in front of the Lahore Press Club on Friday. He said,

"We will continue our protest till the PU administration provides us a separate place for prayers or allow us to pray collectively on the campus." He said 13 Shia prayer leaders including Allama Muhammad Ali Johar, Syed Hassan Ali Naqvi and Mazhar Abbass Jaffery have signed a letter saying that offering separate prayers was basic right of Shia students. Daily times
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