A third-year student at Bahawalpur's Government Sadiq Egerton College on Wednesday allegedly stabbed a professor to death over what he vaguely described as the academic's "anti-Islam" remarks, police sources and persons familiar with the incident said.
Associate professor Khalid Hameed, the head of the English department, was seated inside his office at the college when he was allegedly accosted and attacked with a knife by the student.
According to initial information noted by police at the scene of the crime, Khateeb Hussain, a 5th-semester BS student enrolled in the English department, had exchanged hot words with Prof Hameed at around 8:40am over the arranging of a 'welcome party' at the college.
The event, which Hameed was overseeing, was to be held on March 21 to welcome new students to the college, police said.
Police sources told DawnNewsTV that Hussain was averse to the event being organised because he viewed the mingling of male and female pupils at the function as "un-Islamic".
Following an argument, Hussain stabbed the professor in the abdomen and head, police said. Hameed was taken to the Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Police have arrested the suspect along with the murder weapon and registered an FIR under Section 302 (intentional murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on a complaint of the deceased teacher's son.
In the application submitted to police for the registration of a First Information Report (FIR), Prof Hameed's son stated that the incident took place when he had gone to drop his father off at the college along with two others. He said his father proceeded to enter his office while he (the son) was still in the parking; he said he saw the attacker hiding behind a pillar and then suddenly charging at the teacher.
“As my father was about to step into his office, the guy attacked him with a knife, hitting him on his head and stomach,” he told AFP.
“My father then fell down and I rushed to him; the student held his knife and started shouting 'I have killed him, I had told him that a gender mix reception is against Islam',” he said.
According to the deceased's son, the attacker also said he had killed Prof Hameed because he supported the scheduled function in which "obscenity is promoted".
“We took him to hospital but he had already died,” he said.
He said the student dropped his knife and the guards arrested him.
A video confession of the suspect, aged around 20, was obtained by DawnNewsTV.
In the video, seen by Dawn.com, the suspect identifies himself as Khateeb Hussain and says that he attacked the English professor because he allegedly "spoke against Islam".
In response to a question, he says he assaulted the teacher with a knife in the office where he was sitting. Both of the suspect's hands are bandaged, indicating he received knife injuries during the scuffle.
When informed that the professor had died at the hospital, the suspect expresses satisfaction with his actions.
He is then questioned on why he did not use a lawful way of voicing his complaints against the academic, to which he responds that the country's laws are "freeing the blasphemers (gustaakhon) ".
When asked if he regrets his actions, he expresses no remorse.
'How many more lives?'
Speaking to reporters in the evening at his residence, Hameed's son said his father's murder was a result of "brainwashing". He said the function was a matter of the college administration and his father was not directly involved in it.
He said the incident had put question marks on the government's efforts to curb extremism in society.
"He was [an] employee of the Government of Pakistan, the event happened in the premises of [a] government college ... but there has been no word from the government on this regarding protection and implementation," the son said.
He said the PTI government kept raising the issue of a South Punjab province, "but this incident took place in south Punjab as well [and] the entire city is sitting in fear".
"I want to ask you this; this has happened before and continues to happen but until when? How many more lives?"
He questioned whether the government will act on the National Action Plan "only when there is pressure from India or the United States" and whether there was "no value" of the lives of Pakistani residents.
The Government of Punjab had tweeted in the afternoon that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar sought a report from police and ordered an investigation of the incident.
He asked authorities to "ensure in every condition the provision of justice to the heirs of the deceased professor".
'Moment of reflection'
In a press release, the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association strongly condemned Hameed's murder.
It demanded that the district administration bring the perpetrators of the crime to book under anti-terrorism laws within 10 days. It also asked the district and college administrations to take steps to ensure the safety of the teachers.
The professor's murder sparked an outrage on social media, with people condemning the act and calling for action.
Former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted that the teacher's murder at the hands of a student because of a difference in opinion was "a moment of reflection for the entire nation".
"Unbelievably tragic how we've created hordes of young people who believe having a mild amount of fun is reason enough to murder someone," wrote Ammar Rashid.