Minister, varsity ask students to leave IJT; 20 PU students against ‘immorality’ booked; Party harbors ‘terrorists’: VC

47026_widenative-408x264LAHORE, Dec 2: Punjab’s education minister asked parents to keep their children away from “vested interests” of IJT/JI. Twenty male students of Punjab University (PU) – who belong to Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) of Jama’at e Islami (JI) Party were arrested on charges of locking up, torturing and beating teachers, as well as setting ablaze a number of buses, on Monday. The students said they were angry on “immorality” of teachers and university administration staff. The PU Vice Chancellor alleged that the hostels had become dens of extremists and terrorists from IJT/JI party.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Rana Mashhood Khan has appealed to the parents of Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) activists not to allow their children “to become tools of elements putting their future at risk for vested interests”, according to a handout.

The minister spoke to media at the Punjab University on Monday after clashes between police and students over the evacuation of a hostel. He said that the protesters were hooligans disrupting classes, blocking general traffic and terrorising public transport.

He said that the protesters had also demanded the release of some people arrested for physically assaulting two teachers, threatening to kill them and firing in the air. “Armed elements” instigating students to protest for their release had links to the Taliban and had taken illegal refuge in various hostels, he said. Khan noted that student unions were banned in Pakistan.

The IJT is JI’s students wing whose members were protesting against a press conference held by the university in which the administration had alleged that members of the party had locked two teachers of the law college in classrooms on November 30, according to a private TV channel. The protest was held on a bridge connecting the university with the hostels. The agitated students had blocked traffic on the bridge. A contingent of police officers arrested 13 boys and cleared out the university’s Hostel No 16, as it is considered a stronghold for Jamiat members. Following the evacuation, a group of students started pelting stones and police arrested another four IJT members. Police seized bottles of alcohol from the room of a Jamiat spokesperson, identified as Rao Adnan. There are conflicting reports about whether the police arrived first, after which the students began protesting, or if they came in response to the students’ protest against the administration. PU vice chancellor had accused IJT of harbouring militants in the university hostels. However, Jamiat had refuted the claim and accused the VC of “trying to defame Jamiat” to hide his own inefficiency. Early September, intelligence agencies had arrested Ahmed Sajjad, believed to have been the handler for a terrorist cell in Lahore, from PU Hostel No 1.

Police launched an operation in the boys hostels of Punjab University and arrested 20 students associated with IJT.

IJT members reacted to the arrests by indulging in violence. They torched a bus after dragging people out of it.

They also snatched keys from bus drivers and blocked roads and underpasses near the university, causing severe traffic snarls.

IJT spokesman Abdul Bassam claimed the teacher was having a “closed door” meeting with a woman student on campus. Knowing this, a group of students knocked at his door but he did not open it, he told PTI.

The vice-chancellor had earlier accused the IJT of harbouring militants in university hostels. “Punjab University hostels are sanctuaries of terrorists,” he said.

A couple of months ago, intelligence operatives arrested varsity student Ahmed Sajjad, believed to be the handler for a terrorist cell in Lahore, for harbouring an Al Qaeda member of Arab descent. The alleged Arab terrorist is still in the custody of intelligence agencies.

An IJT spokesman refuted the allegations and accused the vice-chancellor of defaming the organisation. The spokesman claimed the vice-chancellor was promoting “indecent culture” on campus.

IJT students had last year assaulted senior teacher Iftikhar Baloch over his relations with women students. Baloch was sacked after the charges were proved in the Punjab University syndicate.

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