80 PU students held, 37 expelled

January 24, 2018

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Police check the bags of students during a search operation in a Punjab University hostel. — White Star
Police check the bags of students during a search operation in a Punjab University hostel. — White Star

LAHORE: Police arrested at least 80 students belonging to Pukhtun and Baloch Council and Islami Jamiat Tulba (IJT) as minor clashes on Punjab University New Campus continued on Tuesday.

The clashes between IJT and Pukhtun and Baloch Council groups erupted over holding Pioneers Festival to welcome newcomers to the university on Monday.

A PU spokesman said the administration had expelled 37 students who were found guilty of torching a room, uprooting the camp set up for the festival, damaging private and police vehicles.

He said the students were identified through footage captured by CCTV cameras and also recording statements of eyewitnesses.

Muslim Town police registered three cases against two dozen students involved in clashes. The cases were registered under section 7 of Anti Terrorism Act (ATA). The police also nominated IJT Nazim Usama Ijaz and Pukhtun and Baloch Council President Asfandyar Khan with others in the cases.

Three cases under ATA registered; five injured in clashes; scholarship policy may be reviewed

On Tuesday morning, the IJT carried out a rally, blocked the Campus Bridge and Bhaikay Wal Mor for traffic and demanded action against the students involved in torturing their members. They chanted slogans against police and the university administration for registering case against them. They demanded that the police arrest Pukhtun students nominated in the FIRs for creating law and order situation in the university.

CCPO Amin Wains reached the spot and students opened the road on his assurance. The police also held a flag march on the campus.

The Pukhtun and Baloch Council students also took out a rally and chanted slogans against the police and administration for registering cases against them and arresting their members. They later moved towards the Campus Bridge to record their protest.

They said the administration did not take action against the IJT activists involved in torturing their members.

Later, the members of both groups had a clash at university underpass No. 1 as a result five students were injured.

A heavy police contingent resorted to tear gas and baton charge and entered boys hostel 1 after launching operation against the students.

The police took 80 students from both groups into custody and shifted them to different police stations.

Punjab Minister for Higher Education Ali Raza Gilani talking to media outside the VC office said 37 students arrested a day earlier had been rusticated.

He said the students expelled from hostels would be provided with accommodation in other hostels after a thorough investigation.

He said the [arrested] students would be tried under ATA for attacking police and vandalising public property.

Members of Pukhtun and Baloch Student Council on Tuesday announced quitting their ongoing study programmes and go back to their native province if they were not provided with justice.

Speaking at a news conference in Lahore Press Club, the Pukhtun students alleged that the police and university administration had been patronising IJT and their illegal activities.

They claimed that police arrested at least 50 Pukhtun students from the hostels but gave a safe passage to IJT activists.

Meanwhile, IJT spokesman Taimoor Khan said: “We were protesting against the Pukhtun students in the evening when they started pelting us with stones.”

He said police had first played the role of silent spectator and later arrested their 60 members during an operation in hostel 1.

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Zakria Zakar on Tuesday chaired a meeting of all heads of departments and deans to review the situation.

The VC endorsed the action taken by the disciplinary committee and also reviewed the scholarship policy granted to Balochistan’s students.

According to sources, the VC said they would get nominations from the Balochistan government to give scholarship and admissions.

The decision was taken after the incidence of clash. Currently as many as 500 students from different areas of Balochistan are studying in the PU on scholarships.

The meeting also decided to install biometric system in all hostels to discourage outsiders as several students hailing from Science College, FC College and Civil Lines College were also found in Monday’s scuffle.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2018