THE agony of the family of a 12-year-old boy who died in a shooting incident on Thursday is simply unimaginable.
The child, a student of Grade V at a private school, happened to be passing by the staff room when a gun being cleaned by his teacher inside went off by accident.
The emotions of the teacher too can only be guessed at; he first rushed the student to the hospital, and then turned himself in to the police.
No doubt the law will take its course, yet the lives of all the people affected will never be the same again, for the most senseless of reasons.
Perhaps this tragedy is only compounded by the fact that the fault is that of a beleaguered and inefficient state. After the horror that was the assault on the Army Public School in December, both the centre and provincial governments were left casting about in despair.
Across the country, schools were required to add gunmen to their security detail. The KP government decided that employees of educational institutions would be allowed to carry arms on campus, and though it backtracked after vociferous opposition, over the past months several sessions have been held in different cities where law-enforcement authorities put guns in hands that ought to have been holding books.
Accidents were the expected outcome of such dangerous weaponisation; earlier during the year, four schoolgirls were injured in Mansehra when a gun held by a private security guard went off — again by accident. And in Rawalpindi, a college student was similarly injured by a guard who, it was found, had never received training in the handling of firearms.
Sense needs to prevail before more such accidents occur and more blood is spilt. Weapons have no place in educational institutions. And the state must not be allowed to abdicate its responsibility vis-à-vis the security of the citizenry. Why do these two most basic facts continue to elude the authorities’ understanding?
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2015