GILGIT: Two people, including a policeman, were killed and seven others injured after two students groups clashed in Gilgit on Wednesday.
“According to our information, two have been killed and seven others injured,” Sajjadul Haq, a senior government official at the chief minister office, told The Express Tribune.
DIG Ali Sher confirmed the two deaths but put the number of injured at six. Tensions raged the town since Wednesday morning when a group of students organised a religious event inside the campus despite the ban imposed by the Karakoram International University (KIU).
KIU has initiated disciplinary action against at least 17 students who violated the ban. One student has been expelled while 16 students have been banned from entering the university for three years, said a KIU press release. It further added that those who manhandled the university’s security officials will be fined Rs7,000 each.
Rival students sects’ protested the event through a sit-in outside the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly. When the event at KIU ended, the students were stopped by the police near the central police office to avoid a confrontation. However, the day-long demonstrations culminated into violence as firing was reported across the city.
KIU spokesperson Shahid Shigri said that the university banned sectarian events inside its premises after two groups representing rival sects planned separate events, rejecting the university’s proposal to hold joint programmes.
Gilgit has a bloody history of sectarianism but saw unprecedented peace during Muharram as Sunnis and Shias rallied together despite threats of suicide attacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2012.