High court seeks reports on harassment allegations

Published: September 7, 2018


HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has taken notice of alleged sexual harassment of a university student in Shaheed Benazirabad district.

According to a notice issued by SHC Registrar Ghulam Rasool Memon on Thursday, a Benazirabad district and sessions judge along with the Benazirabad DIG and SSP have been directed to file separate reports in three days.

A final year student of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University’s English department, Farzana Jamali, had accused the department’s acting chairperson, Aamir Saeed Khattak, of harassment. She also blamed Vice-Chancellor Arshad Saleem Arain for supporting Khattak and trying to suppress the matter.

After initially evading Jamali family’s attempts for the registration of a case, the Benazirabad police lodged on Tuesday an FIR against Khattak and Arain following the political and civil society’s backlash. The two have been booked under sections 506 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which bring a maximum punishment of up to seven-year imprisonment if convicted.

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However, the student’s family still appears far from satisfied with the police action. Speaking to the media, Iqbal Jamali, Farzana’s uncle, said while a weak police case had been lodged on the police complaint instead of the victim’s complaint. “We don’t accept the police FIR. We will register our own FIR.”

He recalled that the district police was earlier reluctant to even receive their written complaint but suddenly on September 4, they booked the FIR. “The police action is an effort to save the [alleged] culprits,” he claimed.

When the student’s father, Aijaz Ali Jamali, reportedly met the VC and asked him to take action against Khattak, the VC allegedly got him arrested for assaulting Khattak. He was released from the prison after a local court granted him bail on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Khattak and Arain also secured protective bail on Wednesday from a Benazirabad district and sessions court against a surety of Rs50,000 deposited by each of them.

Universities and Boards Secretary Alia Shahid has also formed a four-member inquiry committee to investigate the matter. It comprises Chartered Inspection and Evaluation Committee Chairperson Prof Dr Abdul Qadeer Rajput, University of Sufism and Modern Sciences Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Parveen Munshi, Naushero Feroz Deputy Commissioner Anwar Shar and Universities and Boards Deputy Secretary Sohail Anwar Baloch.

Munshi’s name was included in the committee after criticism came from media that the committee lacked a woman member.

Naushero Feroz harassment

Another harassment case emerged on September 4 in Naushero Feroz district where a final year student of a private law college has accused the principal, Badaruz Zaman Kambho, of harassing her. The local police on September 4 lodged an FIR on the complaint of her mother, Dr Razia Sultana, in which she accused the principal of rape attempt as well.

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“The principal called my daughter in his office room, locked the door from inside and tried to force himself on her,” Dr Sultana alleged. According to the mother, who is a medical superintendent of a taluka hospital in Kandiaro, her daughter escaped from the room and many students saw her coming out of the room in tears.

Kambho obtained on Wednesday pre-arrest bail from a local court. He has been nominated under sections 324, which pertains to attempted murder, 504, 506 and 509 of the PPC, which are punishable with a maximum sentence of seven years.

The principal told the local journalists that he had been implicated in a fake case. He claimed that the student and her family had sought a favour from him regarding exams, which he refused and, consequently, was framed in the harassment case.

He also accused Naushero Feroz SSP Amjad Shaikh for being partial in the case in favour of the student. Unlike Jamali’s case, neither has the SHC nor the boards and universities secretary has taken notice of the matter.

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