Student gangs exchange fire over ‘MAO control’
LAHORE: The tug of war between two student groups over getting ‘control’ of the MAO College turned ugly on Monday when they resorted to crossfire on the campus which lasted for well over two hours, fortunately injuring nobody.
The incident reminds one of bloody on-campus clashes among the rival ‘student’ groups to establish hegemony over educational institutions that led to student unions ban in early 1980s.
Hundreds of the students, including those taking their annual secondary school certificate examination at the college, were left terrorised when a gang of 30 to 40 people entered the college premises at about 8:40am and resorted to aerial firing. The members of a rival ‘student’ gang, who were present in the college hostel, retaliated the fire.
On hearing shots, the students loitering in the corridors or lawns of the college ran for their lives, while a couple of girl students reportedly fainted. The faculty members, however, kept their nerves and did not cancel the matriculation paper. However, the afternoon paper was conducted under police security.
An eyewitness told Dawn that four double-cabin vehicles carrying about three dozen armed men reached Lower Mall at around 8:40am. Two of the vehicles pulled up in front of the Sanda Road gate of the college, dropping over a dozen men there, while the remaining took the armed men to the main gate, he said. “The firing continued for two hours or so with brief intervals,” he added. However, the both groups vanished in thin air before the police arrived, he said.
The terrified college students then gradually came out of the classrooms and translating their fear into anger took to the street, burning tyres in protest and chanting slogans against the warring factions. They thrashed one Bilal Azam on suspicion of having links with one of the groups. They also shouted slogans against the administration for failing to maintain peace in the college. They vowed to continue protest till the arrest of those responsible for Monday’s incident.
“This is outrageous and intolerable. The atmosphere in the college had been quite tense for the last few days but the administration did not pay heed to the issue,” said an MA Mass Communication girl student who wished not to be named. She said the administration should now carry out a thorough search in the hostels to purge the campus of gun culture.
The traffic remained suspended on the Lower Mall for several hours.
A source said the both groups were being backed by PML-N leaders. “A federal minister is backing Afzaal Gujar group while two powerful MPAs want their boys, led by one Tanvir Khan Khakwani, to get hold of the college,” he maintained.
MAO College Principal Chaudhry Muhammad Khan told Dawn that ugly politics of controlling the campuses led to the incident. He said the previous administration had allowed the Muslim Student Federation (MSF) to set up their office on the campus. He said the students of this group had taken between Rs15,000 and Rs25,000 from 2,000 students for their admission in B.Com last year. The same group would also extort money from buses, wagons and rickshaws plying on roads around the college.
Prof Khan said at least 50 policemen would stay in the college till the elimination of the student wings. Such students would also be expelled from the college, he added.
The principal also announced that the institution would remain close for Tuesday and Wednesday. The police claimed to have detained 10 students belonging to both the groups.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.