KARACHI: Maqsood Abid, whose daughter studies in the Fine Arts department, has forbidden her from going to the university for a few days - till the “fear fades”.
KU students are used to campus clashes but Tuesday’s blast went a step too far. The explosion took place at the central cafeteria, located at the junction of the arts and science faculties and is almost always crowded.
Talking to the media, KU Vice-Chancellor Dr Pirzada Qasim admitted that there had been a security lapse. “We need at least 150 personnel for campus security,” he said.
From 8:30 to 8:45 am there are almost 15,000 to 16,000 students entering the gates, which makes it impossible for the security guards to properly check without causing delays.
“It was a small one today but it was hardly two blocks away from the administration block,” said Mass Communications faculty member Saadia Mahmood. “There is not much point in ‘pseudo security’.”
Mahm00d said arms and ammunition were no novelty on campus. Every time clashes erupt, guns are found.
Student Bushra Rizvi was around 15 feet away from the blast site. Her husband was just going to lead the Zuhr prayers. “Just as I sat on his bike to get dropped to my department, I heard two explosions and then the smoke engulfed everything,” she said.
Some people thought a transformer had exploded. “It was horrible,” said witness Arshad Ghauri who was standing about 150 meters away at Shehbaz Photostat. “Then I saw some boys shouting. Everybody was panicking and some of the girls were crying,” he said.
The explosion has definitely shaken up the students. “The university was much better 10 years ago when my cousins used to study here,” said Zoology student Erum, who had run out of the botany lab. “People [who aren’t even enrolled in KU] packed in cars are allowed to enter and are always there in the cafeteria.”
Gilgit student Arshad Hussain was shaken up as one of the badly injured ISO boys, Wajid, lives with him at the hostel. “I will try to stay here to complete my remaining one and a half years,” he muttered.
A’ Level student Osama Shahid lives on campus at the teacher’s residential colony. “My parents told me to lock up and stay alert,” he said, adding that they panicked because they live on the main road.
“They told me that students may get violent and jump into the house and set it on fire.” Condemning the incident, Karachi University Teachers Society told The Express Tribune that they were meeting the VC as well. “They’ve crossed all limits now. We come here to study, not fight a war,” said an infuriated second-year student. “Some of my friends were stuck inside because they sealed off the area. No one could get in or get out.”
The exams scheduled for December 28 have been postponed, announced the controller. They include those for BA and BSc as well as the MBBS. The new date would be announced later. KU will be open, however.
with additional input by Neha Ansari
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2010.
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