Attack on Pashtun new year’s celebration in Punjab University by religious extremists
Written by Fazal Kakar. The writer is Native of Zhob, Balochistan and a graduate from the University of Punjab
Editor’s note: The attack happened last month. In a recent incident Mashal Khan was killed in MArdan by similar people
Culture is an important aspect of human life, as are politics and religion. It goes back to the beginning of civilisation. Festivals formed an essential part of any culture. Pashtuns are a peaceful community living in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pashtuns love their culture over anything else. The new year Nowruz is celebrated with great pomp and show every year. Students of Pashtun community studying in Punjab University in Lahore hail from different provinces and districts of Pakistan.
Pashtun Students from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Balochistan had decided to celebrate their cultural festival in the University campus with the official approval of VC and administration. Approval for the same was granted for 21st of March. Students made preparations like arranging decorations through posters, fetters and their personal stock of the traditional Pashtun attire. Cameras, loudspeaker and drone camera for the recording of that celebrations were arranged till a day prior to it. Students were busy in these arrangements, when some IJT members came there to ransack the arrangements but did not succeed late into the night. They wandered around the University in search of posters displayed for the awareness of cultural event. They went and tore them up blatantly breaking the law of Pakistan as well the university rules and regulation.
On 21st of March, students were all set for the new year (Nowruz) day celebrations. Stalls had been set up with an exhibiting about Pashtun culture. A cultural rally started from the department of Sociology with the students walking with posters of the cultural event till the event venue at Faisal Auditorium.The chief guest was
Minister for Higher Education Commission, Mr Syed Raza Ali Gillani. He met the students and visited the stalls and appreciated the efforts of the students. After Mr. Gillani left for his office, IJT goons without having taken any permission from university administration for conducting any program put up a stall with blaring loudspeakers. They soon attacked the Pashtun students celebrating new year’s day with sticks and bricks in broad daylight in front of thousands of students and the media. Instead of stopping the assailants, private guards of the University and around 200 police official started beating the Pasthun with batons. They also resorted to aerial firing and tear gassing to disperse the Pashtun students. The university administration and police both failed to protect the Pashtun Students from IJT goons. IJT goons misbehaved with female Pashtun Student and threatened and pushed them around. It went viral on social media and there was outrage in sections of the electronic and print media.
More than 18 students were injured in the clashes. Punjab’s Law Minister held Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba members responsible for the clashes. He added that 18 out of 22 students arrested for involvement in the brawl belonged to IJT. The students demanded strict punishment for the culprits attacked the Pashtun new year celebrations. They said that this is an attacked on our honor and turban and they want justice from the Government of Punjab and expect the CM of Punjab to immediately take step against the assailants. They demanded that a lifetime ban on IJT, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.
It was suggested that the issue be resolved through negotiation. Pashtun students along with other students’ councils including Baloch Council, Sindh Council and others wanted to hold a peaceful protest rally in front of media glare but the university administration did not allow it and 500 police constables were deployed to the stop the students from holding the protest rally. The students indicated that their only demand is a lifetime ban on IJT in the University campus.
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