Varsity campuses asked to form anti-harassment committees in Balochistan

Updated October 17, 2019

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Students march in protest inside the Balochistan Univeristy campus, carrying placards inscribed with slogans such as  "Punish the accused", " No to harassment", "We want justice" following harassment of students through "objectionable videos". — DawnNewsTV/File
Students march in protest inside the Balochistan Univeristy campus, carrying placards inscribed with slogans such as "Punish the accused", " No to harassment", "We want justice" following harassment of students through "objectionable videos". — DawnNewsTV/File

QUETTA: Perturbed by the recent instances of alleged blackmailing and harassment at University of Balochistan, the provincial government on Wednesday instructed all universities to constitute anti-harassment special committees.

Also on Wednesday, the university’s academic association said none of its faculty members was involved in the video scandal, which emerged a month ago when the Balochistan High Court asked the Federal Investigation Agency to investigate harassment of students of the university through “objectionable videos” discreetly made at its Quetta campus.

The office of the Balochistan ombudsperson had issued a circular to university campuses in the province regarding the formation of anti-harassment special committees in July this year but “no university other than University of Khuzdar bothered to follow the directions”, Sabira Khatoon of the ombudsman office told Dawn.

Speaking at a press conference along with many lecturers of the university on Wednesday, Professor Dr Kaleemullah Barrech, representing the Academic Staff Association, said that the association had been raising its voice against the varsity administration for several years and had written to authorities concerned but no action has even been taken.

He alleged that under the guise of security, hidden cameras had been installed in the varsity. “Not a single teacher has any access to the camera surveillance room [in the university],” Mr Barrech claimed and added that they had nothing to do with the video scandal.

He said that on BHC’s orders, the FIA was investigating the matter which he welcomed. He demanded an impartial inquiry and punishment to all those involved. “Through media, we want to assure parents that we, the teachers, have always taken care of the sanctity of the varsity and our children,” he said.

Vice President of Academic Staff Association of the Balochistan University Professor Fareed Achakzai lashed out at the vice-chancellor of the varsity Dr Javed Iqbal alleging he had been embroiled in a scandal back in 1992.

“Recently, a female student lodged a complaint of harassment at a local police station against a member of the administration and the vice-chancellor reached the police station to downplay the matter,” he further added.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2019