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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Moral Policing at PU: Will three-member committee probe the matter conclusively?

News Analysis |

In the latest development, the University of Punjab, (Lahore) has constituted a three-member committee to probe into the recent incident in which a student’s husband was beaten up allegedly by the members of Islami Jamiat Telaba (IJT). Videos circulating on social media showed some IJT students beating up a man at the campus, as a large crowd of people looked on while a woman yelled at the alleged perpetrators to stop.

The man Awais Rind, a producer at a local TV channel, had reportedly gone to pick up his wife, an MPhil student, from the History Department of Punjab University and was having lunch with her when the said group of students gathered around the couple and started thrashing him.

Vigilantism at the university campus is an alarming situation.

After the incident was reported on electronic media it became a top trend on social media in Pakistan. People from all walks of life demanded the government to de-politicize and de-weaponize the campuses where the IJT members allegedly use violence as their common weapon on regular basis.

It is important to note here that the current vice chancellor– who has been directed by the Governor Punjab to present a report on incident– is allegedly a sympathizer of the IJT. According to the sources, the IJT members involved in the incident are likely to be spared by the administration since the VC is not interested to bring any change at the policy level.

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The report prepared by the chief security officer of Punjab University detailing the incident states that the couple was speaking loudly when the security guard deployed nearby went up to them and “asked them to prove their identity but in a rough manner. Annoyed with the behavior of the security guard, Mr. Rind started exchanging harsh words with the guard which resulted in a “physical fight between the security guard and Mr. Rind.

After the incident was reported on electronic media it became a top trend on social media in Pakistan.

Two to three students passing by, reportedly associated with IJT, approached the commotion and inquired Rind about the matter. “In return, Mr. Rind reacted in a bitter tone which led to a fight between the students and Mr. Rind,” the report states. This report is the confirmation of the above-mentioned claims and apprehensions that the administration is likely to protect the IJT and its image.

Prominent journalist Rauf Klasra has categorically stated in his program that the IJT has its own people in administration and faculty across the PU and nobody can stop them from doing whatever they wish to. It is reported that many professors and officials at PU do agree with the policies of the IJT and encourage students to ensure moral policing at the campus.

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Mr. Klasra believes that such students and faculty members (commonly termed as IJT goons) generally belong to a humble background, and a sense of deprivation urges them to be violent when they look at someone having a decent standard of life.

Analysts believe if the incident is not probed into fairly and the perpetrators go unpunished it is likely that the campus will continue to be a battlefield between unarmed students and IJT members. Vigilantism at the university campus is an alarming situation. The PTI-led government in Punjab is expected to ensure that the country’s largest university becomes a place of learning and knowledge production rather than a home to extremist ideologies.