G for gun control: Student dies in gun accident; 10 others injured in campus clashes

Published: June 11, 2015
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

MINGORA / MANSEHRA / PESHAWAR: 

A 12-year-old boy was accidentally shot dead by a teacher on the outskirts of Mingora on Thursday.

Insiders familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune, Majid Khan, a teacher at Sangota Public School Swat was cleaning his pistol in the staff room when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Maaz Khan, a student of class five who was passing through the corridor, killing him on the spot.

Police arrived at the site and took Majid into custody. Further investigation into the incident is under way.

G for gun violence

Earlier this year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had given firearms training to teachers and permitted them to take guns into classrooms after the barbaric attack on Army Public School in the provincial capital. However, the move attracted widespread criticism.

Following Maaz’s unfortunate death, social activists in Swat have once again voiced concern over this policy, saying the incident highlights shortcomings in the government’s policies.

“It is not a teacher’s job to keep a gun,” Neelam Ibrar Chattan, an activist who runs a non-profit organisation, tells The Express Tribune over the telephone. “It is the responsibility of law-enforcement agencies.”

Chattan, along with local elders, had rejected the government’s decision to give firearms training to teachers.

“We threatened to stop sending our children to schools if the decision was implemented in Swat,” she said. “We send our children to schools to learn, not to be killed.”

Nangyal Yousufzai, another social activist, said they had successfully managed to stop children from buying toy guns for three years.

“However, the government’s decision had once again exposed children to the gun culture,” he said.

G for grenades

At least 10 people were injured when a ‘scuffle’ between students and security guards escalated at Hazara University’s main campus in Mansehra on Thursday.

Police and eyewitnesses told The Express Tribune students travelling in a Suzuki van were stopped at the main gate of the institute at 11:30am. Security had been tightened at the university premises earlier this morning after they received threats.  As a result, no one was allowed to enter without a thorough search.

The students refused to comply with security protocol. One of the students reportedly attacked a security guard while shopkeepers in the area attempted to break up the scuffle. However, the situation spiralled out of control when other students got involved.

Eyewitnesses said both sides opened fire and a hand grenade was lobbed by a student, leaving close to a dozen people injured.

Administration offices, laboratories and classrooms were ransacked by students. The injured students and guards have been shifted to King Abdullah Teaching Hospital, of whom four are in critical condition. Mustafa, Haris, Obaid Khan, Zahid Khan, Azam Khan and two security guards, Fakhar-e-Alam and Zenat Khan, were among the injured.

The police have arrested a student identified as Aman for lobbing hand grenades at security guards.

A for action

According to a teacher at the university, staff and students at the university are safe but clashes continue among various groups.

“The police should have taken action to ease tensions,” he said, requesting anonymity. “They had been informed about the gravity of the situation but only a dozen police personnel were sent to control the situation.”

When contacted, the university’s registrar, Kala Khan, told The Express Tribune hostels were vacated and students had safely returned to their homes.

“A search operation was conducted to recover weapons,” he said. However, the registrar failed to disclose how many weapons had been recovered from the premises.

“The university has been closed after the incident and will reopen after Eidul Fitr,” he added.

On October 21, 2014, a student was pronounced dead while several others were injured after an exchange of fire between two student groups at University of Agriculture (UoA) in Peshawar.

Consequently, 11 students involved in the incident were rusticated. The institute remained closed for over two weeks and reopened on November 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2015. 

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