FC, police willing to vacate Balochistan University campus, Senate panel told

Updated November 22, 2019

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Senate panel hears Balochistan University VC to address harassment scandal by the staff at the varsity. — Dawn/File
Senate panel hears Balochistan University VC to address harassment scandal by the staff at the varsity. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The Frontier Corps (FC) and police have committed to vacating the Balochistan University building but have not specified when, Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Anwer Panezi told a parliamentary body on Thursday.

“The FC Inspector General and the police IG have committed that they will not interfere in the operations of the university, nor interact with faculty and students,” Mr Panezi told the functional committee of the Senate on human rights.

The committee had met to discuss the issue of harassment and blackmailing of students by the staff at Balochistan University.

The parliamentary body had observed that deployment of security forces within campuses was not conducive and added to the general climate of fear.

Harassment, blackmailing of students by the staff at Balochistan University came under discussion

Committee chairman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar had directed that all the universities in Pakistan should review deployment of security forces on university campuses. The VC was directed in particular to meet the Frontier Corps IG and the police IG to reassess deployment of security forces inside the campus. The committee maintained that security should be deployed only at entry and exit points and places of prime importance.

Dr Panezai informed the committee that following directions of its members to remove unnecessary cameras, the University of Balochistan reduced the number of CCTV equipment from 91 to 56.

“I do not understand what ‘unnecessary’ means. University of Balochistan is not a normal education facility. Our faculty and students are under continuous threat of terrorism,” the VC told the members.

CCTV camera footage showing male and female students intermingling installed around the university for security reasons had been used allegedly by its staff to extort money and sexually harass female students. Protests followed as students took to the streets, including in Islamabad, and organised sit-ins at universities across the country.

The vice chancellor of the university had temporarily stepped down from his role, following the launch of an investigation into allegations of harassment and blackmail on campus.

The meeting was informed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiring into the issue would present its findings in a report on Dec 2. Then vice chancellor Javed Iqbal had denied involvement in harassing and blackmailing the students, mostly girls. However, the members held him responsible for ‘grave’ violations of rights of students as head of a responsible educational institute.

Students, who were present in the meeting, told the committee members that the university gave the feeling of more of a prison than an educational institute and demanded what they called an end to militarisation of their educational institution.

The committee will invite the FC IG and the police IG and ask them to commit a timeline to vacate premises of the University of Balochistan.

Besides the 300 security personnel of the university, law enforcement agencies have posted another 300 plus personnel for the security of students.

The committee also took up the case of Sohail Ayaz who sexually abused more than 30 under-aged boys before he was caught.

The members were shocked to learn that despite information available on Sohail Ayaz on the internet, law enforcement agencies did not notice that the child abuser had been deported by the Italian government.

They were also surprised to learn that Sohail Ayaz, who was a chartered accountant, served in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government twice, and went unnoticed despite being convicted by the Scotland Yard in the UK and by the Italian government.

SSP of Rawalpindi Investigation Moham­mad Faisal informed the committee that the FIA personnel deputed at the airport had not shared details of Sohail Ayaz, since he had completed his punishment in the UK and Italy.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019