Multiple deaths reported in KU clashes
Two people have reportedly lost their lives and dozens severely injured in fierce clashes at the University of Karachi today. The confrontation started around half past noon earlier today at the Arts Faculty between rival political groups, The All Pakistan Muttaihada Students Association and The Jamiatut Talabai Pakistan. Eye witness accounts said the Arts lobby was transformed into a “blood bath” later in the evening as tensions rose.
“People armed with iron rods were sitting in the common rooms, hitting any and everyone they saw” narrated one of the students. Reports from GEO add that fighting also took place outside the Arts Faculty, near the Administration block; Rangers have reportedly taken 50 students into custody.
Earlier in the day, students from the morning program, particularly all the girls, undertook an immediate emergency evacuation strategy. “We just assume, as a rule, that as soon as any clashes take place all classes are cancelled and you run for home as fast as you can” an apprehensive female class fellow explained to me when I asked her if we should consider taking our Mass Communication class scheduled during the time the clashes first erupted.
It is not clear yet why the clashes started off in the first place, but observers said everything took place at a rapid pace. “We were sitting in the Arts Lobby like we do every day when suddenly we heard a large roar of male students coming from behind us, then one of the AP members screamed to his comrades to get hold of someone in the crowd and before we knew it, everyone was hitting everyone so we just started running for our lives like all the other girls” a petrified class fellow told me on the phone.
I was in main library when all this happened and chaos immediately ensued there as well. “Phadda hogaya, phadda hogaya, sab band karo” screamed the librarian as everyone tried to make sense of what was happening. By the time I had left university at around 1 o clock, I saw several police vans entering the university and a Rangers truck parked just outside the Silver Jubilee Gate. But despite this security was quite shabby as decidedly suspicious looking “students” on motor bikes were seen entering the university.
Such clashes of course are not uncommon at the University, earlier this year academic activities were disrupted for a week when similar clashes between rival groups took a turn for the worse. It is not clear yet which group the dead students belonged to or what the number of injured students are, but one thing is for sure, things will definitely be very volatile security wise for the next few days as rivals may decide to take revenge. Academic activities will, as usual, also be disrupted.
More updates as and when they are received.
Post script: Reporting done by my self and another student who would prefer to remain anonymous. Names of students quoted above have been withheld to protect their anonymity and security.
Update 1 at 9:57 PM: Associated Press of Pakistan quote a university spokesman as saying “firing” took place at the campus in which “some” students sustained injuries. The university has officially been closed down for the next two days.
Update 2 at 10:05 PM: ATV News are putting the causalities at 1 dead and 3 students injured. They also quote Governor Sindh Dr. Ishratulabad who conveyed his sadness over the violence whilst ordering the immediate arrest of those responsible for the “martyrdom” of the student.
Update 3 at 10:29 PM:: Latest news coming in from MQM’s news channel has put the death toll at 4, one of the dead is identified as Syed Mohammad Ramesh, who I believe is a class fellow of mine. I cannot confirm this at the moment, but either way this is extremely depressing. What kind of politics is this?
Update 4 at 10:47 PM:: One more dead identified as security guard Rahim and student Osama. Fresh news coming in also add that some teachers were also injured.
Update 5 at 11:30 PM: Injured taken to Jinnah and Abbasi Shaheed Hospitals, firing outside both hospitals too. NED and Urdu Universities to remain closed tomorrow. Jamiatut Taleebai Pakistan has done a press conference in which they have strongly condemned the clashes, announcing that they will observe a “protest day” tomorrow. 10 of their workers are reportedly missing. Meanwhile, MQM chief Altaf Hussain has strongly condemned the clashes and expressed his grief at the death of APMSO worker and student Ramesh.
Update 5 at 12:00 PM: It is still not entirely clear why the clashes started but I have learned through reliable sources that they may have erupted over “White Day” celebrations. AMPSO students had apparently decided to celebrate their leader Altaf Hussain’s birthday in advance (since it would originally fall in Ramazan) as “white day” after a similar program had been postponed last week because of clashes that also caused the extracurricular activity week (Students Week) to be called off. But the scheduling did not go down too well with Jamiat students, it seems. One source adds that the provocation may have been started by Jamiat workers.
Update 6 at 12:21 PM: A Jamiat sympathizer has revealed a slightly different version of the events. Speaking to a fellow student aiding me in the compiling of this blog post, the Jamiat sympathizer narrated how Jamiat had scheduled a Istabal-e-Ramazan dars today. The administration had already granted them permission for this. Meanwhile APMSO students had scheduled “White Day” for the same day, but their permission request had been denied by the administration. Disgruntled over this, they decided to turn up at the venue of the Jamiat dars and spoil events there. In retaliation, Jamiat started fighting and at least 2 of their workers died in the clashes.
I’m afraid I don’t have power and I’m almost running out of battery on my laptop now so the updates will have to stop here until KESC blesses me again.