Guards, police thrash protesting students at PU

LAHORE: The Punjab University (PU) saw one of its worst demonstrations of student torture on Wednesday when, under the supervision of varsity’s vice chancellor’s (VC) advisor Col (r) Ikramullah and Major Arif, police and the varsity guards manhandled both male and female students of the Institute of Mycology Plant Pathology (IMPP), who were protesting on the issue of the status of their degrees.

According to the IMPP students, as soon as they reached the VC’s office, varsity’s security guards and police personnel attacked them and started torturing them. The security guards and police personnel even humiliated and abused the female students, who were demanding immediate termination of the VC and his advisor Ikramullah.

Separately, Ikramullah also closed the varsity’s doors on journalists, ordering them not to give coverage to the protest and forcefully held two media representatives.

According to police sources, the varsity had called the Muslim Town police as well as a reserved force to abuse the students, and had instructed them to “beat the students freely without thinking of any consequences”.

Around eight male and female students on this occasion tried to immolate themselves in protest against non-recognition of their degrees and non-acceptance of their demands by the PU administration. The students sprayed petrol on their bodies and tried to commit suicide as according to them this was the only solution left after their manhandling by the guards and police. The students were later given first aid by Rescue 1122 staff.

It is important to mention here that the students of IMPP had been protesting for the last nine months since their degrees were not being recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and were rejected by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

The students had been demanding change in the name of the Institute from IMPP to Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS) as per a requirement of HEC and PPSC and other public and private agricultural organisations. The students were also demanding the appointment of a permanent director in the institute with a degree in agriculture, and the termination of some incompetent professors. The students announced that they will observe a protest demonstration in front of Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Anti-VC campaign: Separately, the teachers at PU condemned Ikramullah and Major Arif for manhandling students and said that the VC hired the services of the colonel to get an extension from CM Punjab but he was “beating female students and converting the varsity into an army garrison”. They further said “the advisor was a burden on the government and was enjoying facilities by getting huge funds”. They threatened that if the VC did not terminate

Ikramullah, the teachers and students would launch an “anti VC campaign”.

A PU official statement claimed that the VC, in the follow up of the Tuesday’s meeting, held a meeting with the IMPP students on Wednesday and removed all their reservations. The VC said that coordination regarding the solution of pending matters, which is because of delay by other institutions, like Agriculture University Faisalabad, would also be expedited. The VC assured the students that permanent relevant director for the institute would be appointed by the end of this month. He said that the vacancies of the relevant teachers would be advertised as soon as possible and all the consultation regarding their qualification and specialisation would be completed soon.

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