PU students sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand released
Terrorism charges against Punjab University students involved in last Monday’s violent clashes have been dropped on the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The decision to drop the charges came in a high-level meeting on Saturday between Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Higher Education Syed Raza Ali Gillani, PU Vice Chancellor Dr Zakria Zakar, the inspector general of police and other senior officials.
According to reports, the CM came down hard on the government officials for linking the students to terrorism offences, directing the officials to quash all such cases against the arrested students and get them released at the earliest. Media reports said that close to 200 students arrested and sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand by an anti-terrorism court had also been released by the authorities.
A violent clash on January 22 between PU students belonging to Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) and Pakthun Baloch Students Union (PBSU) initiated at the university’s Electrical Engineering department and turned the university into a battle scene, leaving scores injured and bringing academies activities to a standstill. The clashes also resulted in vandalism, as one of the rooms in the Electrical Engineering department was also set on fire protesters. Contingents of police force were called in to bring the situation under control, leading to hours of tear gas shelling and subsequent arrests. Close to 200 students were later arrested from around the campus and hostels and booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Students involved in clashes will still have to face disciplinary action
During the meeting on Saturday, the CM questioned why university and police officials had not acted against IJT activists when they engaged in clashes in March last year, reprimanding the officials over their action against Pashtun and Baloch students.
Higher Education Minister Gillani later held a press conference, informing newsmen that all charges against the students were being dropped, however, those involved in the clashes would have to face disciplinary action.
Following the recent skirmishes, PU registrar has written to all academic head of the university to provide details of students in the next four days. The updated information would be included in the newly set up central students’ record management system. The database would include latest information of students, past and present, enrolled in PU. The letter issued to dean and other departmental heads stated that the completion of the on-campus students’ records from all previous and ongoing sessions was the first step in completing the centralised record of PU and its constituent colleges, departments, institutes and centres.