LAHORE: A student of the University Law College was tortured and confined for over three hours by activists of a religio-political student union for tweeting for the safe recovery of Salman Haider and other social activists who have been missing for over two weeks now.
Taking notice of the incident, the Punjab University administration has registered a case with the Muslim Town police.
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Suhail Ahmad, a law student and a national level distinguished debater who lives in the Punjab University hostel, had tweeted in support of the Islamabad-based missing Salman Haider and also shared a poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz to express solidarity with the missing men.
The post on Twitter infuriated some members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) – the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Over 14 activists of the IJT barged into his hostel room on Monday night and forcibly took him to Room No. 139, reportedly a torture cell used by the student union to teach a ‘lesson’ to dissidents.
The victim told The Express Tribune that the activists put a blanket over him and continued thrashing him for quite some time before taking him to the hostel’s courtyard.
As a large number of students and university guards gathered at the site, the suspects blindfolded the victim and took him away to an unknown place outside the university.
Suhail said he was crying for help but no security guard came forward to rescue him. He was released near Mustafa Town after three hours on the intervention of some leaders of the IJT’s parent political party. The victim was tortured brutally and has been admitted to hospital for treatment.
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Chairman Hall Council Dr Abid Hussain said the suspects did not take the victim to any room but beat him up in the open.
A senior PU professor on condition of anonymity said the newly appointed vice-chancellor had issued directions to the administration to start reconciliation with the IJT. A notification was issued recently to withdraw cases registered against the student activists for disturbing peace at the campus.
He claimed the VC was on track to reverse the policy of his predecessor for clipping the wings of the student body.
The Punjab University spokesman said on the directions of PU Vice-Chancellor Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir, the administration forwarded the complaint of torture on Suhail and registered an FIR with the Muslim Town police. After the incident, the vice-chancellor had also visited the hostel, he added.
The spokesman rejected the impression that the IJT had been given a free hand to operate at the campus. “The administration will not compromise on the law and order situation and will take action against elements involved as per its rules,” he added.
Veteran human rights activist IA Rehman said the government must ensure the safety of the citizens. “This is not a civilised way of governance,” he added.
While IJT spokesperson Amjad Bukhari confirmed the incident took place, he claimed the issue was born out of a personal feud between the students of University Law College and Punjab University. “The IJT has nothing to do with it,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2017.