In a first for the garrison city, sixty masked men carrying iron rods barged into a girls’ school in Rawalpindi and thrashed students and female teachers on Friday.
The gang of miscreants also warned the inmates at the MC Model Girls High School in Satellite Town to “dress modestly and wear hijabs” or face the music, eyewitnesses said.
Fear gripped the area following the attack and only 25 of the 400 students studying in the college were present on Saturday. The school employs 30 female teachers.
Attendance in other educational institutions also remained low. After hearing about the attack, all schools in the city shut down, an official of the Rawalpindi District Administration (RDA) told The Express Tribune.
A student of the girls’ school managed to inform the administration of the nearby boys’ high school of the attack. “[However,] the armed gang was so powerful that we could not rescue our teachers and colleagues over there,” Noail Javed, a grade 10 student, said.
In-charge of MC High Schools in Rawalpindi issued a notification to the heads of all girls’ schools to take pre-emptive measures to avoid such incidents in future. According to the notification, a gang comprising 60 to 70 miscreants entered into the school from a gate that was “strangely open”.
All the MC school heads were assigned the responsibility of protecting the students by the notification. A school headmistress wishing not to be named said, “How is it possible for us to protect the students from such elements. The city administration should review its security plan.”
The notification also suggested that the heads should not inform the students about the situation, so that they are not alarmed into skipping school. “Police is investigating the matter,” the notification said. Following the notification, the heads of the schools also shared the numbers of relevant police stations with the teachers in case of any untoward situation in future.
Asjad Ali, a student of class 9 at the nearby boys’ high school, said that his younger brother Awais, a student of grade 5, was also among those who were brutally beaten by the miscreants with iron rods. “The police did not come,” he said.
A police official of the New Town Police Station, asking for anonymity, told The Express Tribune, “We were under strict instructions to do nothing.”
District Education Officer Qazi Zahoor and Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed were not immediately available for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2011.