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University of Balochistan Sexual Harassment Scandal: Who Are The Real Perpetrators?

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In the province of Balochistan, the tendency to receive education among women is already low, and the unearthing of a blackmailing scandal in Balochistan University, the number of women seeking education would possibly drop.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), on the complaints of the students and orders of the court, arrested the university’s security branch officer and surveillance in-charge for blackmailing students using immodest video content.

The scope of the investigation has expanded to around 200 employees of the university. The videos and footage of secretly installed cameras were also recovered from the accused.

The accused had secretly installed cameras in various blocks of the university and the recorded footage was being used to blackmail students, both girls and boys.

The students’ organizations, including Pashtunkhwa Students Organizations (PSO), Pashtun Students Federation, Baloch Students Organisation and other student outfits of the province launched country-wide protests against the harassment scandal, which allegedly involved the university’s vice chancellor, internal security staffers and a few teaching staff. The students organizations’ leaders in a joint press conference alleged that the VC on the directives of some ‘hidden hands’ had banned student politics in the university as he wanted to pave the way for crimes (such as the recent one) in the absence of these outfits who protected the rights of students. They also called for the formation of a judicial commission that would conduct an impartial investigation into the harassment scandal.

The Academic Staff Association of the university strongly condemned the video scandal. The president of the association, Professor Kalimullah Baraich, has demanded of the concerned authorities to thoroughly probe the matter and give severe punishment to those involved in it.

Professor Kalimullah Baraich went on to allege that the university had reached this extreme stage just because of the financial and moral corruption of the head of the university and his team. He demanded that the vice chancellor be removed from the post until the investigations in the matter were completed.

Balochistan Governor Justice (Retd) Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, who is also the chancellor of the university, stated that the incident of University of Balochistan was being thoroughly investigated and as such, action would be taken without any discrimination against anyone found responsible.

The alleged incident of harassment of the female students of the university at the hands of few of its staffers was echoed in the provincial assembly too. Lawmaker Sannaullah Baloch raised the issue at a point of order. Lawmakers Nasurullah Zeray and other members of the house from both the government and opposition benches strongly condemned the sexual harassment scandal and expressed concern over it. They asked the vice chancellor of UoB to tender resignation over the scandal.

Later, the speaker announced the formation of a nine-member committee comprising of provincial ministers, advisors and MPAs from both the treasury and opposition benches but unfortunately, the Investigation into the scandal is at a standstill as the committee failed to elect its chairman in its first meeting.

The committee, which met to elect the chairman and to start a probe into the scandal, postponed its meeting till October 23.

Meanwhile, the chief minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan, has taken notice of the scandal. The chief minister has directed to the concerned federal and provincial institutions to apprehend the elements involved in the scandal by expanding the circle of investigations.

So far, the FIA has been able to trace 12 videos that were used to blackmail and harass female students. Statements by various students’ organisations seem to confirm claims that such harassment had been going on for quite some while on the university campus.

The parents and students are worried about the scandal in the University of Balochistan. The university administration, the governor, who is the representative of Imran Khan-led PTI federal government, and the Balochistan Awami Party-led provincial government have failed so far to ensure safety and justice for the victims. They must also reassure families and people of the province that universities would be made safe and secure for students.

Around 700 paramilitary forces (FC) have been deployed at the university premises for students’ security, yet they failed to find the hidden cameras installed in the bathrooms of girl hostels.

Besides the VC, the university administration, teaching staff, and the concerned FC officer(s) deployed in the university for security should also be investigated for their negligence.

The question then arises; who is the mighty one who is slowing down the investigation process? Despite the debate this scandal has engendered and the condemnations it has received by members of the provincial government, the progress in the case is being hampered.

Though the FIA has been investigating the case, even after a week the FIR has not been lodged. Who is behind this scandal? The mighty hands need to be exposed.

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