Punjab University clash: ATC sends 19 students on seven-day physical remand

Chief minister held a meeting and directed officials to take a legal action against elements responsible for brawl


Our Correspondent January 25, 2018
Clashes among Punjab University students.

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) handed over 19 students to police on a seven-day physical remand and sent 177 others to jail on a 14-day judicial remand for their involvement in a clash between two student groups at Punjab University on Monday.

The situation at Punjab University remained tense as a low number of students were seen on the campus, while the police continued search operation at the hostels with a large presence of police officials at the varsity.

The police presented the 196 students arrested before an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday. The 177 students were accused of vandalism and clashing with each other while 19 were accused of firing. The investigation officer told the court that the accused students had set fire to two vehicles and five motorcycles.

He said that because of the clash, dozens of students were injured, while the student organisers of the festival caused damaged to public property. He also told the court that armed people tortured officials deployed at the varsity. He contended before the court that the inquiry was still underway, so the arrested students should be handed over to the police on a physical remand.

Meanwhile, the police held a flag march at Punjab University and a heavy contingent of police remained at the varsity. Police also continued its search operation on Wednesday at the hostels and had so far made more than 200 arrests. The police conducted search operations at hostels number 1, 3, 7, 18 and 8 in the new campus, as well as at the Khalid Bin Waleed Hall of the old campus.

Each hostel houses around 400 students. Additionally, police also conducted a search operation at the Islamic centre. After the search operation, students were allowed to enter their rooms late at night on Tuesday after clearance by the police.

On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Law and Order and discussed the incident of violence at the Punjab University.

Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani and acting Vice Chancellor Dr Zakria Zakir briefed the meeting about the incident.

Addressing the meeting, Shehbaz said that a legal action should be initiated against the elements responsible for students’ brawl.

He made it clear that nobody would be allowed to ruin the educational environment. “The rule of law will be ensured at every cost.’

The chief minister said that indiscriminate action be initiated against the elements responsible for disturbing the educational process of the university and directed that effective measures should be adopted to curb the occurrence of such incidents in future. He also appreciated the acting vice chancellor for taking a firm stance and directed police to provide all-out support to the varsity administration.

Various proposals were reviewed to continue the educational process in the Punjab University in a peaceful manner. Provincial Ministers Rana Sanaullah, Ayub Gadhi, Raza Ali Gillani, Jehangir Khanzada, Advisor Rana Maqbool Ahmad, ACS (Home), IG Police and others attended the meeting.

The university atmosphere remained tense on the third day of the incident. A faculty member, on the condition that he would not be named, said that many of the classes were cancelled as most of the students did not show up. In a statement, the university claimed that academic and research activities at Punjab University resumed as per routine. “The academic departments of the university witnessed calm and attendance of students remained as usual. The classes at all the departments were held as per schedule including College of Electrical Engineering’s classes as the administration had vowed not to compromise over the academic loss of the students,” the statement said.

In the statement, PU spokesperson said that Dr Zakir had taken a firm decision to ensure peace on campus at all cost and the administration was ready to take any decision in this regard without taking care of any pressure from any group. He said that the university would take disciplinary action against more students across the board who would be found involved in the incident during investigations.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2018. 

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