Balochistan University Students Demand Exemplary Punishment For Perpetrators Of Harassment
Balochistan University students have demanded from the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights exemplary punishment for all those involved in the recent harassment of students.
The comments were made during the Senate Panel meeting conducted in the Parliament House, Islamabad. The meeting was attended by the vice chancellor, students of the varsity, human rights defenders and members of the parliament.
Students of the university demanded accountability of those responsible in the recent harassment scandal whereby the administration had been using footage recorded through secret cameras to blackmail students. They stated that those responsible should be punished in order to safeguard the future of thousands of girls studying in the varsity.
The committee chairman lamented over the happening and said that it was extremely unfortunate that students were facing harassment and blackmailing from the administration of their university.
Briefing the committee, the acting vice chancellor of the university, Dr Mohammad Anwar Panezai, said that a total of 92 security cameras were installed at different locations of the varsity for security purposes. He added that later it was reported that six more cameras had been installed in other locations for which the university had not granted permission.
The VC while dispelled the rumours cameras had been installed in the toilets and hostels and added that they had been actually been installed behind door and inside corridors.
Dr Anwar stated that these were the findings of the Federal Investigation Agency, which had carried out an investigation inside the university on orders of the Balochistan High Court.
Meanwhile, a student from Balochistan University who wished not to disclose their name added that FIA in its initial findings found 5000 videos of students. She said that this was an intentional move to destroy the educational fabric of a whole generation inside Balochistan and added that if these criminals were not punished by the state, dire consequences would emerge and the state would be responsible.
Senator Tahir Bazenjo added that the VC of the varsity should be interrogated regarding the whole episode. Moreover, Senator Ayesha Farooq added that since long, the privacy of students was being violated but no one responded to the reservation of the students. She added that students didn’t report the blackmailing and harassment due to the fear of society and their families.
The vice chancellor, while responding to the reservations of the committee, informed them that four officials and 150 internees had already been suspended while further investigation is underway.
A student apprised the committee that due to the harassment, dozens of female students were called back by their families. She added that the whole campus was converted into a military camp with dozens of security personnel patrolling the inside of the campus without any logic.
The students also argued that the presence of security officials on campus should be limited to the entrance of the premises.
The students also highlighted that the anti-sexual harassment committee inside the university had no female representation and the administration aimed to run this committee according to their own interests.
The senate panel directed the VC of the Balochistan University that all the extra cameras should be removed immediately while security officials should be limited to the gates.
The committee also decided to conduct its upcoming meeting inside the university in order to investigate the scandal from independent sources and eyewitnesses. The committee in its final recommendations added that no single individual who ruined the reputation of the university and harmed the educational journey of the students would be spared.
The author is a reporter based in Islamabad.