ISLAMABAD, April 4: Students of Bahria University on Monday protested against the unceremonious sacking of a professor.Carrying placards with messages like “Save Bahria University from dictatorship” and “Oppression on campus,” the students chanted slogans against the university administration particularly its Rector Vice Admiral (retired) Mohammad Haroon for military style control and disrespecting the faculty member.
Professor Qamar Riaz Mahmitkhel, who taught the MBA and BBA students leadership and marketing, was dismissed when he questioned the purpose of Bahria University and whether creativity could flourish in a military style setup.
According to students, Prof Mahmitkhel was 'manhandled' by Director Campus Commodore (retired) Mohammad Ali and four to five security personnel on Sunday.
“They grabbed the professor by his arms and around the collar and dragged him out of a packed auditorium in front of students and other faculty members,” said a student during the protest held at Shaheen Chowk in front of the naval headquarters.
Other groups of students cleared the air that their protest was not against the university or the retired military officials running the institution.
“They cannot humiliate and degrade a professor. But the university administration, comprising former military personnel, do what they had been doing in the past,” said a former student of the professor who also joined the protest.
According to the protesting students, Professor Mahmitkhel commanded respect for his personality and courteousness over the five years he taught at the university.
“Almost everything is wrong in the university. I questioned the education agenda and the system that serves only a few in our society while a larger portion is ignored. I'm only trying to save this institution from destruction and to empower students and faculty because teachers are underappreciated in our society,” said Prof Mahmitkhel, holding a placard that had a big question mark drawn on it.
“The administration calls me indisciplined and impolite because I speak the truth,” said the professor, adding: “Retired military officers are scared of democratic values and that is the biggest problem. I know I might be all alone later but I will put up a fight until the end because that is the way forward.”
Some 500 students seemed to have confirmed participation in the protest after being invited through Facebook and phone texts. But a prohibition act from the students handbook was run on LCD screens and posted on noticeboards and entry gates reminding students of dire consequences for disrupting a peaceful atmosphere of the university by holding strikes or inciting students to join protests on the campus that is guarded by sniffer dogs, metal detectors, security cameras, armed navy commandoes and fortified by concrete and steel barricades and a steel fence all around.
“One of our teachers warned us of rustication if we supported the professor in the demonstration,” said a student.
The warnings, however, did not stop nearly 100 or so students from gathering at Shaheen Chowk to voice their concern.
When the Bahria University administration was contacted, a deputy director denied the protest had taken place. “I was at the Shaheen Chowk too but did not see anything. There was no protest.”
The official said the professor's services were terminated because his contract had expired.