Student group activists attack Pakhtun culture show at PUnjab University

LAHORE:March 22: A clash between the Pashtun students and Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) activists erupted at the Punjab University on Tuesday afternoon when the Jamiat members allegedly tried to forcibly halt the ongoing Pashtun Culture Mela. The PU administration had permitted the Pashtun students to hold the cultural day event outside the Faisal Auditorium, New Campus, and the same was also attended by Punjab Minister for Higher Education Syed Raza Ali Gillani and some PU officials. Nearby the Jamiat had organised a Pakistan Day exhibition, without permission of the university authorities. The clash erupted soon after the minister and the PU officials left the Pashtun event. The IJT activists tried to stop the music on which Pashtun students were performing Attan, a folk dance. The IJT activists forcibly entered the tent set up by Pashtun and Baloch students and started uprooting the tent and stalls. This led to the clash and both sides thrashed each other. When the two sides managed to distance themselves, they resorted to uprooting each other’s tents (one was also set on fire) and started pelting stones. As the situation got tense, the PU administration called the police which resorted to severe teargas shelling to disperse the violent students. Some 14 students from the two sides were injured in the clash. A PU official, seeking anonymity, confirmed that IJT was not granted permission to hold the event and it seemed Jamiat activists just wanted to sabotage the event of Pashtun students to show its so-called campus hegemony. The tense situation led to panic among parents of female students who reached the campus to avoid any untoward situation while academic activities also remained suspended in many departments primarily because of heavy teargas shelling and partially because of the fear which gripped the PU students after the violence. “IJT activists feel losing Jamiat’s so-called hegemony whenever non-member students collectively organise an activity on campus,” said a faculty member who wished to remain anonymous. He questioned the PU administration’s inability to stop the Jamiat from holding an event which was not officially allowed. A PU official said the police arrested some Jamiat activists from the scene while some of them were later arrested from the Islamic Centre. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the clash and sought report from the CCPO Lahore. Ordering an investigation into the incident, the chief minister said strict legal action without any discrimination would be taken against the elements behind the clash. He said nobody was above the law and stern action would be taken against those who have taken the law into their hands. He said clash in an institution was regrettable. Pashtun Educational Development Movement’s Muzammil Khan told The News that Jamiat activists, mostly comprising outsiders, attacked their camp which led to the clash. He said some Pashtun and Baloch students were injured. IJT spokesman Taimoor accused Pashtun students of forcibly entering a nearby event organised for the girl students, saying this led to the clash. He claimed all those injured belonged to the IJT. He accused Pashtun students of ‘attacking’ hostel No.1 after the clash. Later in evening Higher Education Minister Raza Gillani held a meeting with PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir and other senior officials and expressed his disappointment over the administration’s inability to control Jamiat. Some students from Fata and Balochistan were present on the occasion who demanded the minister ensure strict action against the Jamiat activists for turning a peaceful event into a violent activity. The minister directed the PU administration to stop students from organising activities on the campus independently and prepare SOPs in this regard. Meanwhile, according to a press release, the minister constituted a committee to investigate the clash between the two student organisations. The fact finding committee would be headed by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir and would include Director Students Affairs, Chairman Hall Council, SP Iqbal Town, Resident Officer, SHO Muslim Town and two student representatives from each student organisation. The committee will give recommendations in 10 days. Talking to the media, Syed Raza Ali Gillani said: “We would establish peaceful environment on campus and take measures to avoid any such incident in future”. The press release also stated that Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir said indiscriminate action would be taken against the elements involved in the incident and nobody would be allowed to take the law into their hands. Talking to the media, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said 22 students were arrested and 18 of them belonged to JIT. Earlier, addressing the Pashtun Culture Mela, Syed Raza Ali Gillani said the spirit of Federation had been strengthened by providing free educational facilities to the students of other federating units in higher educational institutions of the Punjab. The step has been taken by the Punjab government to help students in continuation of their studies. As a result of this beneficial facility, students belonging to far-flung and remote areas of other provinces are getting quality education for emerging as talented and educated youth. The students set up stalls to present various dimensions of culture, history, literature and clothes of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Raza Gillani inspected stalls and congratulated the students for their hard work.The news.

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