12 wounded in student groups clash at PU

January 23, 2018

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The uprooted tents after a clash between two student groups over organising an event to welcome newcomers to the Punjab University. — Online
The uprooted tents after a clash between two student groups over organising an event to welcome newcomers to the Punjab University. — Online

LAHORE: At least 10 students and two policemen were injured in a clash between two student groups in Punjab University on Monday.

The brawl erupted between Islami Jamiat Tulba and the Pukhtun Baloch Council over holding Pioneer Festival by the IJT to welcome newcomers in early hours of Monday on the ground of the College of Electrical Engineering Department. Most injured reportedly belong to the IJT.

A PU spokesman said as many as 35 students from both sides had been identified through CCTV cameras and they would be expelled shortly.

An official source told Dawn that the Pukhtun Baloch Council wanted to settle a score with the IJT for sabotaging its cultural festival on the campus last year. “The council planned to pay back in the same coin as IJT’s festival was scheduled for Monday. First, its activists uprooted the camp set up for the event and then damaged vehicles parked there. They also set a room of the engineering department on fire.”

Two policemen among the injured; 35 identified ‘rioters’ to be expelled shortly

Later, the IJT members took out a rally to the VC office to protest against the incident. The council also started a protest outside the hostels and both groups had a brawl as a result more than 10 students from both sides suffered injuries.

A heavy police contingent reached the university, lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the students and controlled the situation after an hour or two. The students also attacked the policemen, injuring two personnel and damaging a police van.

IJT spokesman Taimoor told this reporter that the Pukhtun and Baloch student group had attacked their members at around 4:45am on Monday.

He said the students, who were armed with clubs and batons, had tortured and injured six members of their group.

He said the Pukhtun students had also [allegedly] torched a room inside the department and damaged a number of cars and motorcycles parked there.

Pukhtun and Baloch Council leader Asfandyar Khan said the IJT students conducted a rally and allegedly tortured their two members outside the sociology department.

He denied the IJT’s allegations of torching a room and said they had nothing to do with the incident.

He said the IJT activists had kidnapped their three members on Sunday and tortured them severely.He alleged that the IJT members had time and again tortured their activists and no action was taken.

Addressing a press conference, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zakria Zakar said the situation was under control [now].

As the [clash] news aired on different channels, Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani reached the university and held a meeting with police, university administration and representatives of both student groups for more than five hours.

CCPO Amin Wains, DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, SSP (Operation) Muntazir Mehdi and Iqbal Town SP (Operation) Rana Farooq Umer also attended the meeting.

The CCPO told the media that police had controlled the situation and suggested the university administration to close the varsity for two days [for an operation].

He said police had asked the administration to provide details of the ‘miscreants’ and they would take action against them.

The chief minister has also taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the CCPO.

Talking to the media, the provincial minister said they had discussed all possible angles of the clash and decided to register two FIRs.

He said the university would remain open as per routine and no one would be allowed to disrupt academic activity.

He said they would not repeat past mistakes and all the decisions would be implemented in letter and spirit.

Gilani said they would not allow any outsider to stay in hostels and action would be taken against all those staying illegally.In March last year, the university had imposed a ban on student organisations from holding any kind of event. The ban came as a reaction to a brawl between two student groups at the university on March 21, 2017 in which 18 students were injured.

A student group was celebrating their cultural day outside the Faisal Auditorium when a rival student group arrived and began chanting slogans against them which led to the clash.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2018