Wednesday, April 2, 2008

People's Resistance condemns assault on Dr. Riaz

KARACHI, April 1: The People's Resistance, a coalition of pro-democracy individuals and groups, joins organisations like HRCP, AHRC and others in strongly condemning and demanding immediate inquiry into the manhandling and beating up of Dr Riaz Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Applied Chemistry at Karachi University by Pakistan Rangers.

On Monday, March 31, Dr Riaz attempted to drive out of the campus from the Silver Jubilee gate. Rangers deployed in the campus had closed all entry and exit gates following a clash between two student groups and refused to open the gate for Dr Riaz's car. After some harsh words they dragged him out of the car, abused him, kicked him with their boots, and severely beat him with their fists, batons and rifle butts. They dragged up to two meters in the presence of their Commandant Colonel Iftekhar. Students who tried to protect Dr Riaz were also injured. Some teachers and students took the injured professor to the Aga Khan Hospital where a medico-legal exam was carried out.

At a time when the new government has announced the welcome step of reviving student unions and our politics are hopefully being de-militarised, with the military going back to the barracks, it is also time to remove para-military forces from our educational institutes. It should be noted that Dr. Riaz was among the university professors and staff who have consistently opposed the deployment of Rangers at the university, since the ban on student unions in the 1980s. The Rangers' deployment at KU has not only made the security situation worse at the institution, but also resulted in a disruption of the academic atmosphere.

Some months ago, Dr Riaz had berated the Rangers for kicking students' book-bags; one of the Rangers involved in that incident was among the four who maltreated him yesterday. We condemn the continuing presence of para-military forces in our educational institutes and demand that the Vice Chancellor play his due role in upholding principles rather than continuing to make compromises with anti-democratic forces. We demand:

- An immediate, full-scale and high level inquiry into the incident

- Removal of Rangers from university

- The registration of an FIR against the Rangers involved in brutalising the Karachi University professor and the due process of law to punish the culprits.

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