LAHORE: A Baloch student of the Punjab University (PU) was arrested by police and plainclothesmen from the gate of the New Campus on Friday, triggering protests and condemnation from human rights activists, students, and Baloch nationalists.

According to CCTV footage circulating on social media, Fareed Husain Baloch, a BS Education 8th semester student and a member of the Baloch Council of PU, was leaving the campus from the main gate when he was intercepted by two policemen and two others in civvies.

The footage showed that the student resisted the arrest and tried to run away, but the policemen beat him up and dragged him into a private car. The PU security guards did not intervene when the police and the plainclothesmen entered the campus to nab the student.

The Baloch Council office-bearers approached the Garden Town Police Station where the student was detained.

They told Dawn that the police did not disclose the reason for the arrest nor allowed them to meet the student.

They expressed fear that the police might implicate the student in some false and fabricated case as no one from the law enforcement agencies was willing to tell them about the arrest.

The arrest of the student sparked outrage on social media. Progressive Students’ Collective posted its comments on social media stating “PSC strongly condemns the abduction of Fareed Baloch from Punjab University. Such acts disrupt the pursuit of education and are unacceptable.”

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was deeply concerned by reports of “Pashtun and Baloch students having been harassed and intimidated by law enforcement personnel at universities in Lahore during the last several days, with at least two students having been forcibly disappeared.

“Students from Balochistan and KP remain especially vulnerable in Punjab. This practice of subjecting students to ethnic profiling must end. All students must be equally allowed to pursue their education without the fear of harassment and enforced disappearance.”

Meanwhile, Model Town Division Superintendent of Police (SP) operations Ammara Sherazi and SP Investigation Shehzad Rafique Awan were not available for comment.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2023

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