Campus robberies: QAU students left with a wing and a prayer

Mugging, robbery incidents becoming a norm as varsity fails to secure premises


Riazul Haq June 02, 2015
Quaid-e-Azam University has still not lodged an FIR against robbers who made away with money and cell phones. PHOTO: QAU.EDU.PK

ISLAMABAD: Students at the city’s premier varsity have been left with little option but to look to the sky and pray that they get to class and back home with the contents of their pockets still inside.

Quaid-e-Azam University has still not lodged an FIR against robbers who made away with money and cell phones from students at the campus last week. A group of economics students were robbed at gunpoint by two armed men.

Final year students Naqeebur Rehman and Taha Adil were in their car outside the Earth Sciences department when two men, armed with an AK-47, got off a passing car and ordered them to hand over their belongings.

Rehman told The Express Tribune that they pointed the gun at him and told him to hand over their cell phones, cash and a camera which was on the backseat. “We gave them our cell phones, Rs 10,000 and the camera, after which they fled towards a nearby village,” he said.

Naqeeb reported the incident to the security guards, police and rangers officials, but they did not pursue the robbers. The students then approached Acting Vice Chancellor Zakaullah to lodge an FIR on behalf of the university as they are in their final semester and cannot sacrifice study time running around at police stations, but to no avail.

In lieu of a wall

Last summer, a group of students were left in the lurch when eight laptops, cell phones and cash were taken away from the male hostel late at night. “There are around 2,400 students, including women, currently living at QAU hostels, while the total student body is roughly 7,000,” a university official said.

Muggings have become a norm as anybody from the nearby villages can rob a student and flee due to the lack of a boundary wall, which the administration has failed to start work on.

The campus itself houses a few villages and the residents can be seen commuting through the varsity along with their cattle.

According to a university administration official, despite several requests, the interior ministry has been unable to compel the CDA to construct a boundary wall around the campus.

Former QAU economics professor Dr Eitizaz Ahmad, who at one point also served as acting VC, said that he approached the interior ministry and CDA last year to construct a boundary wall, but the response was lukewarm.

“We are on our own. With a Rs55 million budget, we started construction of a wall from the Bari Imam side, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. Besides, another problem is that university land has not been demarcated properly, leading to encroachment of land, he contended.

Encroachment enigma

The university has been facing the boundary wall issues since it was founded in the 1970s. The QAU administration did not attempt to secure the 1,709 acre-area with boundary walls, resulting in encroachment of about 210 acres, or over 10 per cent of its land according to university records, by politically-connected land grabbers.

Acting VC Zakaullah termed the situation grave. “We are helpless. I know about the decision but even the police do not cooperate. They consider it a varsity issue,” he said.

Encroachments and the absence of a boundary wall are prime issues haunting the whole campus, he added, concluding that the issue is equally pressing for faculty members who live on campus.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2015.

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