Poor security measures irk KU students

Karachi, Oct 20: The recent karachi bombing and clashes that resulted in the death of several students have raised many questions about the role of the security personnel deployed at the University of Karachi (KU). Students feel that the Rangers and the security staff do nothing but obstruct students' work and humiliate them.

The university employs 150 security personnel to guard the different entry points and departments. They come from interior Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and Karachi. There are two inspectors and two constables who are grades 11 and five, respectively. The security guards are given grade one, those with Secondary School Certificates (SSC) are offered grade two while graduate guards are placed in grade seven. They are headed by the campus security officer, security advisor and other staff. Most of the guards are semi-literates and come from rural backgrounds, lacking refinement and politeness.

Inquiry at the university gates reveals that the police culture prevailing in the country has encouraged campus security to behave rudely with students and visitors. Some students allege that guards speak harshly to students without any reason. Girls complain that female security guards posted at the Silver Jubilee gate use vulgar and abusive language.

Students via email have said, that these guards behave rudely not only at the gates but also in the departments, the Arts lobby, at department events and other places inside the campus. One email from Noman Ahmed of the Applied Chemistry department reads, "It has become unbearable to see the guards behaving in such an insolent manner. It seems that they own the campus and the students have no respect here". A female student from the Department of Philosophy complains that "once a female guard insisted that I remove my veil. When I refused she tried to remove my veil by force. However, she had to stop as other students intervened. Such attitude is pathetic."

The restrictions imposed by security guards are mostly based on passing whims. Sometimes, the guards remain seated allowing all vehicles and pedestrians to enter the university, while on other occasions they stop even the cars with university gate passes, which allows vehicles to go inside. A few days ago, a car with a gate pass and the press sticker of a newspaper on its windscreen was stopped and told that "the journalists are not allowed in". The security officer, when contacted, denied that any such policy regarding journalists existed and said that "even if they have no passes, journalists and media personnel can call the PRO or the Media Advisor who will tell the guards to let them in".

Even after these so- called security measures in the form of crude and untrained guards, the university administration is still unable to keep dacoits and robbers out of their staff town. The latest case is that of Dr Humayun of the Department of Public Administration, who along with his family that included a child with a cardiac problem, was locked in the bathroom while robbers stole valuables.

The Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS), in a recently held emergency meeting, strongly criticised campus security which has failed to prevent robberies in the staff town.

The KUTS has demanded that instead of retaining such crude and unprofessional guards, a new fool-proof security system should be introduced to decrease the number of crimes occurring in the university. The teachers' society also criticised the Pro vice chancellor who, according to the KUTS, remained seated in his office while such crimes were taking place in the campus.

The vice chancellor when informed about the behaviour of the security guards promised that the university will train and groom the university guards to behave in a civilised manner. However, the promise remains yet to be fulfilled while in the meantime, students and visitors to the university continue to be harassed and insulted by security guards. The News



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