KARACHI: Rangers keep low profile in KU

April 06, 2008

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KARACHI, April 5: While faculty members of the University of Karachi are generally standing their ground on the recent manhandling of Dr Riaz Ahmed by Rangers on university premises, the Rangers on campus have disengaged themselves from vigilance duties, sources at the KU premises informed Dawn.

Contrary to their usual practice, Rangers personnel did not take up positions at least half a dozen strategic points, including the main entrances to the university, and remained in their on-campus residential areas. According to a source, “the Rangers have practically been off since 7:30am on Friday.”

Meanwhile, KU Vice Chancellor Dr Pirzada Qasim – who has been in touch with Rangers’ superiors since Thursday – has reportedly written again to the DG Rangers Sindh asking him to arrange the immediate withdrawal of the FIR lodged against Dr Ahmed, and help the university diffuse the unrest amongst the teachers.

Dr Riaz Ahmed, associate professor of applied chemistry at the university, was beaten by Rangers’ personnel on March 31. Following the incident, the Karachi University Teachers’ Association (Kuts) has held continued protests with the demand that a comprehensive inquiry be conducted into the matter and the Rangers withdraw from campus.

The Kuts general secretary, Dr Abid Hasnain, said on Saturday that teachers were at no cost prepared to tolerate the insult of any of their colleagues, and that the Rangers and the KU administration “should sort things out once and for all.” He maintained that he was unaware of any action so far taken against any of the Rangers’ personnel involved in the incident, since neither the university administration nor the Rangers had taken Kuts office bearers on board. He added that a general body meeting would be held on Monday [April 7] to review the situation and decide upon a future course of action.

Fact-finding committee ?

According to another source on campus the university’s vice chancellor, who condemned the manhandling of his staff member, believes that any proceedings taken on the FIR filed by a havaldar against Dr Ahmed would aggravate the situation further. The source added that the VC had already formed a high-powered fact-finding committee and suspended a couple of watch and ward staff members. “It is now time for the Rangers to do something,” he said. When contacted by Dawn, the advisor to the vice chancellor on security affairs, Dr Khalid M. Iraqi, said that the Rangers had withdrawn from the campus entry points without having given prior information but the university’s own security staff was vigilant against any untoward incident.

According to a source in the VC’s office, some Rangers’ high-ups told the vice chancellor on Saturday that the Rangers had been withdrawn from certain areas and main gates in order to minimise direct contact with teachers, students or any of the university staff. However, until alternatives were found, the Rangers would reportedly be available to the university administration in case support was needed in an emergency or law and order situation.

A senior professor at the university told Dawn that the deployment of Rangers in educational institutions had frequently been resented but they could be replaced only when KU built up for the purpose sufficient and trained manpower that was sensitive to the sentiments and problems of the campus population. “Even after the deployment of a full-fledged university watch or security group,” he added, “the law enforcers’ role will remain since they would have to be called in to deal with any law and order situation, just as they are in other parts of the city.”

Other quarters take the decline in the Rangers’ duties, at a time when students are in an up-beat mood over the revival of student unions, as a move designed to press home the point that the KU administration and teachers would need the Rangers again.