By abdul sattar
At the time when the armed forces of the country are trying to find
out the remnants of the Taliban in Waziristan and other parts of
tribal belts, they seem to have forgotten that these Taliban also
exist in cities like Karachi. It is not the slum of this city where
they have been regrouping but in fact it the seat of learning, the
University of Karachi, where they demonstrated their power on November
5 at the STC hall. Sources said that around eight to 10 activists
of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, including Ata from the department of
Political Science, Abu Lala from the department of Computer Science
and Asif from another department, attacked the hall, smashing the
things on display.
The attackers alleged that the exhibition was promoting obscenity
and vulgarity, said a frightened student at the condition of anonymity.
I do not know what is their idea of obscenity. You can see
that we had clothes on textile display, computer and posters on
graphic and products on industrial designs, said a female
student of final year who wished to be unknown. She said that
they did not even bother to look at the materials on display but
they stormed the place and smashed anything that was in their
range. Thanks God they did not see the whole exhibition, she said,
adding that the KU administration came and assured us that compensation
would be paid but what about our hard working and our efforts.
Can they be compensated, she questioned.
The students did not take any action against the attacker because
our chairperson did not want any disturbance and even if we wanted,
we could not have done anything because the campus was full of
these obscurantist and retrogressive elements who had become the
lord of the campus and nobody could do anything against them,
she opined. Imran Patel, student of Hons final year, Department
of Visual Studies, said that the attackers destroyed his 21-inch
TV and nine pieces of photography. I received threatening calls
saying we have just broken the materials of your thesis
but we could also break your legs and hands.
He said that one student Hafiz Murtazas computer was also
broken besides the attackers also beat him. Azeem from textile
department was also manhandled and his presentation was smashed
though there was no music in the presentation of the textile.
Imran said that he could not hold his display as he had lost everything.
This incident has really shocked me and I would never forget it,
he said, adding though director finance of KU came to us, assuring
that he would compensate. But it is not only what about my efforts
and struggle. Imran said, I m psychologically very disturbed.
What I prepared after a long struggle was smashed in a few minutes
by some miscreants. He said that Rangers failed to save
our valuable thesis. He disclosed that the attackers were not
repentant at all on the contrary they vowed to fight against such
departments. They threatened that they would not let Visual Studies
Department to become National College of Arts, Lahore, which is
popular on account of its liberal environment
Sources said that the thesis of Saba, a student of final year,
was also broken, including a pc, a monitor and speakers. If this
tendency continued, nobody would take admission to this department,
the sources added. Sources said that a handy cam camera worth
Rs15000 to20000 was also taken by the attackers. Sources said
that except the victims, whose theses were broken, most of the
students were not ready to comment on the incident. It seemed
that they just wanted to hush up the matter owing to their fear
that any action against the attackers would lead to further disturbance
on the campus
A student of the department said that why did they not raise the
question of Islamic and non-Islamic when the Passban, a sister
organization of Jamaat-e-Islami, prepared the biggest bat in Karachi
and played music in whole of the city. These so called Islamists
played music in their function and nobody disrupted. Similarly
they did not have any right to disrupt any bodys function.
He said that under what law the song Qazi Taynu Akhyaan Odekdeyan
was played during the elections of 1993. An ex-student of the
KU, who had come to see the exhibition, said that almost ten years
back the IJT held a big function in the KU and one of its activists
sang a humorous poem with a drum and the entire crowd of the function
gave him a big hand. Many die-hard activists of the IJT, who are
now the part of MMA, were also present there and amused themselves
with the poem.
At that time nobody said that it was unislamic. Sources said that
the Visual Studies Department of the KU is the most neglected
one. It has no permanent faculty. Durriya Qazi is still project
consultant. There are around 60 teachers from outside the university
to deliver lectures. Despite the fact that the department has
meagre resources, it has earned a name just in few years and received
around 700 applications for admission though it has only 70 seats.
On the contrary Indus Valley that has been working for last 12
years received only 200 applications.
The department charges only Rs1200 per semester and out of that
Rs2000 is given to KU administration and the KU does not give
them enough facilities. What it gave was insecurity that resulted
in the loss of students efforts and hardworking. It is interesting
to note that the teacher community did not take any effective
action to protest this incident. Some teachers were even unaware
of the incident and read it in the newspaper. When this ascribes
contacted Mr Sohail Barkati, President Karachi University Teachers
Society (KUTS) he said that he did not know about the incident
and read it in the newspaper. He said that he could not comment
as he knew very little about the incident. KUTS Secretary General
Sarwar Naseem said that though he had not received nay complaint
in this regard, he would raise the issue at the executive committees
meeting of KUTS
He said that the management of KU should have taken effective
measures to stop this violence. KUTS Former Secretary General
Dr Riaz Ahmed said that it was an attempt to discourage creative
art. No action is taken against these kinds of elements that is
why they are emboldened and do what they please, he said, adding
that why did the Rangers not take any action against the attackers.
He said that acts of violence had also taken place earlier the
question was that what the university did against them. Students
Advisor of the KU, Rais Ahmed said that we were informed about
the programme by an invitation only. Had we been informed that
such an exhibition was going to be held, we would have taken adequate
measures to protect the students. He informed that he had made
reports on Nov 5 and would submit the same to the VC and then
the action would be taken against those who were responsible for
the attacks. About the losses he said that the students should
come to us and inform about the losses and we would look into
the matter. He said that every thing was normal after the incident
and the teachers of his office were sitting there to keep an eye
on everything. He said that the exhibition would last till Nov
10 and nothing of this kind would occur again.
Durriya Qazi, the chairperson of the department, deplored the
incident and said that it was due to lack of tolerance. She said
that the KU administration took prompt action and now every thing
was normal and the department was receiving good response. The
question is that why the teacher community did not take any action.
The answer may be very simple that it also has political affiliation.
Sources said that Sarwar Naseem, the secretary general of KUTS,
attended the annual gathering of IJT at Lahore. It showed that
he also had soft corner for that party. How can one expect a partial
teachers body to raise any voice against this vandalism.
Commenting on the incident the KU Syndicate member, MPA Faisal
Subzwari said that he would raise this issue at the meeting of
the Syndicate. He said, We are living in a liberal society
and nobody has a right to thrust his ideas upon others. If a party
does not like anything, it may register its protest in a dignified
way but breaking things and beating students is not appropriate
to lodge protest. He said that it was deplorable that the
KU administration had not determined yet as to who were the attackers.
He demanded strict action against the attackers. Criticising KUTS
he said that why did the teachers body not react to an incident
in which students were beaten, teachers were insulted and assets
of the KU were damaged.