Three people remained in coma on Saturday after an armed clash between students groups at the Gol Chowk in Okara on Wednesday.
Ten other people were injured, including eight students and two passers by, five of whom remain admitted in the Okara DHQ hospital.
Ten students of the Government College, Okara, (GC) were arrested between Wednesday and Thursday out of the 50 who were nominated in the FIR. The college remained closed on Thursday and Friday.
The fighting started at GC campus between members of the Islami Jamiat Taliba (IJT) and the Muslim Student Federation (MSF) and People’s Student Federation (PSF).
Okara District MSF President Imran Younas, one of the nominated suspects in the FIR, told Tribune from an unknown location that the fighting started following hooting over the transfer of Principal Riaz Hashmi. “He was considered pro-IJT…his pending request for transfer was accepted on Wednesday. We cheered at the announcement,” he said. “The IJT members resented this and a scuffle followed.”
However, Okara District IJT President Waqas Ahmed, also nominated in the FIR, said, “The PSF and MSF do not let students pursue studies… We confronted them on Wednesday and a scuffle broke out.”
‘The scuffle’ was quickly over as Principal Hashmi called police. The fighting resumed three hours later at the Gol Chowk in Okara.
The fighting became uglier as bullets were fired. In the end, 13 people were taken to the Okara DHQ hospital.
Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Abbas said three of the injured were still in coma at hospitals in Lahore. “The bullets hit their spinal cord through their abdomen…we referred them to private hospitals in Lahore,” he said.
They were identified as Umair, 12; Arshad, 14; and Ahmed. Arshad was working at a shop in the locality. Ahmed was a passer by. Umair is the son of Okara Traders Association (OTA) President Rao Abid.
Dr Abbas said 10 people were admitted to the Okara DHQ. He said they included eight students. “Four people of them, including two students have bullet injuries,” he said. “Five of them are being kept under observation.”
A-Division SHO Nasser Khan said two FIRs had been registered against 50 students. He said OTA president Rao Abid had lodged an FIR under Sections 7ATA, 324, 149 and 118 and the college administration had lodged the other FIR under Sections 337 H2, 186, 148, 149 and 506-B.
He said 10 students had been arrested in raids since Wednesday, including Sahiwal division IJT president Rai Mazhar Iqbal. “Four of those arrested belong to the IJT, four to the MSF and two to the PSF,” he said.
He said Okara IJT president Waqas Ahmed and Okara MSF President Imran Younas were also nominated but had not been located.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sahiwal division Colleges Director Dr Farhan Shakeel said political organisations were not allowed on campus.
“These students started a fight at the college… and tried to harass both students and the administration. We do not allow political organisations at colleges,” he said.
He said the Principal Hashmi had been transferred on Wednesday. The new principal will take over on Monday.”
OTA President Rao Abid said if the police tried to favour the students and settle the matter, the traders will protest against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2012.