ISLAMABAD: Reports of student clashes at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad on Saturday and the subsequent suspension of classes have yet to delve into what sparked the violence.

The initial “scuffle” that was reported between members of the university’s Sindhi and Baloch Student Councils during a trip to the northern areas of Pakistan in April began because a Baloch student from Sindh had joined the Baloch Council rather than the Mehran Council of Sindh.

Amjid Ali Khosa, a QAU student studying in the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, is a resident of Sindh but happens to be Baloch.

Although students from Sindh usually join the Mehran Student Council, Khosa decided last year to join the Baloch Student Council (BSC), which seems to be the basis of the conflict between the two student groups which were traditionally allies.

Coming back from a trip to the northern areas in April 22, Khosa’s Sindhi class fellows started bullying and beating him for joining the BSC which he reported to the BSC when he came back to Islamabad.

BSC members in turn attacked the Sindhis who beat Khosa and later approached the Mehran Student Council to resolve the issue, but the latter refused to settle the dispute.

A member of the Mehran Council recalls that on Friday, “members of the Baloch Council performed the Chaap, a traditional dance, at the University. Some of our Sindhi friends were angry that the Baloch were celebrating without settling the dispute with us.”

He said some members of Mehran Council demanded that the Baloch be beaten in revenge. He told Dawn that he insisted they should not resort to violence, but no one listened to him. Some members of his council even abused him for being cowardly. Members of the Mehran Council on Saturday attacked members of the Baloch Council where were sitting in Majeed Hut at the University in which five Baloch were injured.

A few hours after that incident, some Baloch students attacked Hostels 8 and 9 where most of the Sindhi students who participated in the attack on the Baloch students were.

A member of the Baloch council told Dawn a similar scuffle had happened in 2011 bit both councils had resolved the matter by agreeing that no council will force a member to stay in the council if they wish to leave and join another.

According to this student, 10 Baloch students and 35 Sindhi students were injured on Saturday but the member of the Mehran Council who spoke to Dawn said only 20 Sindhi students were injured.

Many have posted on social media that they thought this was a pre-planned incident to fuel the fire between Baloch and Sindhi students after the Gwadar incident, but both councils have rejected these rumours and both have said there is no conspiracy here.

The Mehran Council member interviewed said that three members of his council have been arrested and charged with using weapons during the conflict and admitted that both parties had weapons, but the Baloch Council member rejected the allegation, saying that they did not have weapons.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2017

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