KARACHI: The good old student life crashed and burned for hostel residents at Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU), Khairpur, after the police brutally assaulted and arrested them on Thursday.
“We proudly told our children about our experiences during college and university as it was the best time of our lives. But in 2010, when we’re in the 21st century, our children are demanding electricity at their hostels,” said the father of Ghulam Shabbir Arain, who is a position holder at the university.
On Thursday, students protested against the administration, demanding water coolers and asking for a generator to relieve them of prolonged power outages just ahead of their exams. The police baton charged, tear gassed and then dragged them across the street into their vans, arresting about 25 of them.
But Shabbir was not even part of the demonstration. “Even the police admitted that he was wrongly picked,” his father told The Express Tribune.
Another student, Asad Khorkhani, who was one of the top students of his BA part II class, was also arrested even though he was not part of Thursday’s protest.
His brother, who is an officer in the town municipal administration, said, “My brother had nothing to do with the incident outside the university. He was picked up and later released after the police realised that they had arrested the wrong guy,” he said, adding that if the local government had tackled the issue earlier, the situation would not have gotten out of hand.
A constable, requesting anonymity, said that he and his colleagues were constantly requesting the senior police officers not to beat the students but they did not listen. “Instead, they ordered us to beat them up with our full strength.”
According to the students, some of them were badly injured. Some students also complained that the police took away their personal belongings like cash, mobile phones and iPods after they arrested them. The police also conducted raids at the hostel late Thursday night, arresting students and stealing their possessions, according to university officials.
The local community and social workers have stepped up to fight for and provide protection to the students. Mumtaz Solangi, a social worker, filed a petition against the SALU vice chancellor, pro-vice chancellor, registrar and DPO Khairpur, accusing them of manhandling and humiliation.
He has also stated in his petition that after the incident, students repeatedly asked the policemen for first aid treatment but they only received a whack and a curse. The court has issued notices to all the defendants and has summoned them in court on June 2. Cases were also registered against 200 policemen. On the other hand, 50 cases have been registered against the students for disturbing peace and creating a law and order situation.
CM takes notice
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah strongly condemned the assault and ordered the district administration to provide relief to the students.
Khairpur administrator Ghulam Abbas Baloch held a meeting with the management of the university and announced a relief package of Rs15 million on behalf of the chief minister. He also assured the students that the hostel will receive electricity from a separate feeder.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 29th, 2010.