Student violence goes from bad to worse

Karachi, Oct 1: The student clashes that began on August 15 in the Sindh Medical College (SMC) between the Punjabi Student Association (PSA) and the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), resulted in the deaths of two Jamiat and one PSA activists. This initiated a trail of killings that continued well into the month of September.

The climax came on the evening of September 13 when a minibus (G-7) was targeted moments after it had picked some students from gate number two (Staff Town gate) of the University of Karachi (KU). Eight people were shot dead that day, which included five KU students, four of them the activists of IJT and one from the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO). The reason, as understood by the employees and students of the university, was the stand-off between the All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organisation (APMSO) and IJT activists on September 12 when IJT had organised Taleem-e-Baleghan on the concluding day of the Students Week and APMSO came out to celebrate the 54th birthday of Altaf Hussain and brought a camel on campus for slaughter. The chief guest was Rauf Siddiqui, Sindh minister for culture accompanied by Town Nazim Gulshan-e- Iqbal, Muhammad Wasay Jalil, both from MQM. During this event, there was a brawl and, thus, the Minister and the town nazim had to go back, and there were no celebrations.

There is a history of bad blood and clashes between the APMSO and IJT, the latest has its roots from the incident in SMC where IJT activists were gunned down supposedly by the PSA. The IJT discovered on September 10 that, though its activists Farhan Butt and Hafiz Abdur Rehman were beaten by Punjabi students, the gunshots were fired from the activists of APMSO (who were hiding). They used the clash between the IJT and PSA to their own supposed advantage.

The IJT is constantly accusing the Campus Security Officer, Arman Ahmed, and his deputy of taking indirect part in the attack on the IJT students on main University Road which is vehemently denied by him. The IJT has also pointed fingers at Dr Noreen Aslam Shah, Director, Centre of Excellence for Women Studies of acting in a manner that was not becoming of a teacher. The KU Employees Welfare Society, a misnomer for employees union that is dominated by the MQM sympathisers, has beaten the war drum against IJT by demanding action against their activists who, according to the employees association, had threatened them. It may be of interest to note that IJT has demanded the expulsion of an employee of the campus security, who they allege to be the person who directed the hit men to kill the students.

We talked to many students and teachers of the university to get their side of the story. Most of the students were angry for missing their classes on the orders of the IJT. They were surprised and expressed their dismay at the utter failure of the university administration, especially the vice chancellor. "It seems that the VC has no concern about for students and their future. He did nothing to control the situation," said a final-year student of the department of Sociology, who requested anonymity. "We hear that he is very busy in meetings. He is busy with this or that delegation. But he has no time for the students of his own university," came an angry outburst from another student of the department of Mass Communication. "It looks like our vice chancellor needs some greater tragedy so that he can rouse from his slumber," another student from the department of Library and Information Science chipped in.

The teachers, though not many, were disgusted with the situation. "It is surprising that more than a week of teaching has been wasted, yet there is suffocating silence on the part of the university administration. It seems as if it has nothing to do with them. There is a "be merry" attitude being exhibited by them (the administration) which is baffling," said a professor who was cautious enough to request anonymity. Some teachers were angry with the students who acted in such a 'non-student' manner, bringing the Rangers to the campus and allowing the security staff to turn the university into a concentration camp. "It is so disgusting. The university is full of Rangers who do nothing except lounge, walk, sit and trample the campus with their boots," a senior professor from the science faculty vented his anger. "By the way, who are guarding our borders?" Another professor from the same faculty thought aloud. The News



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