LAHORE: A mock drill by law enforcement agencies to combat any untoward incident took Punjab University students by surprise on Thursday.

Initially, there was chaos on New Campus but later the students actively took part in the exercise carried out a day after the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in which 21 people, including 17 students, were killed.

The students after seeing the presence of a large number of policemen with covered faces, guns at the ready, and moving in the corridors of the university, raised alarm and started screaming and fleeing from their classes in panic.

They rushed out of their classrooms as security forces entered the English department for rehearsal.

Iqbal Town Superintendent Police Muhammad Iqbal said that the mock exercise was conducted after consulting the university administration.

He said the purpose of the drill was checking responses and preparedness of the security forces in an emergency situation.

He said the Quick Response Force, Counter-Terrorism Department, Elite Force and local police jointly conducted the exercise and during operation personnel were directed to cover their faces.

He said when the students were informed about a possible attack they raised alarm and started evacuating the building.

Punjab University spokesman Khurram Shahzad said the university administration cooperated with security personnel to conduct the mock exercise.

He said most of the students were intentionally kept in the dark about the drill to check their responses. He said some of the student were scared and panicked as the exercise took place.

On Wednesday, the Punjab government issued a circular for foolproof security arrangements in all educational institution.

The exercise was also a meant to check security in the educational institutions. The security was increased after the Charsadda attack and police also conducted flag march in different areas of the city.

Capital City Police Officer retired Capt Amin Wains also directed all divisional SPs to carry out security inspections in their areas.

In April 2015, teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were given firearms training and allowed to carry guns into the classroom in a bid to strengthen security following the Army Public School massacre in December, 2014.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2016