Moral policing by IJT

A group of the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) hooligans beat up students and later opened fire in Punjab University’s (PU’s) Hostel No 7 on Sunday night, injuring several teachers, students and guards. They fled the scene before they could be apprehended. Such incidents of senseless violence are a norm as far as the IJT is concerned. It all began when a student from PU’s philosophy department was beaten up by IJT members because he was talking to his female class fellow. The IJT nazim threatened that the Jamiat will take action against ‘immoral activities’. Female students at PU staged protest rallies against the IJT’s moral policing and highhandedness twice last week. Many other students and some teachers also joined their protest rallies where “Go Jamiat Go” and “Taliban Murdabad” slogans echoed.

The IJT is the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and just like the JI, it promotes its own brand of Islamic ideology at the PU campus. Progressive and secular ideas are thwarted by IJT goons, who have held PU – one of the subcontinent’s premier universities – hostage to its archaic views through violent means for the last 37 years. The IJT monster was unleashed by then Governor Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar back in 1974. Mr Khar was wary of the leftists’ growing influence in colleges and universities, hence a religio-fascist student organisation was supported to counter this ‘threat’. Students and the faculty at the PU included many of a progressive bent but slowly and gradually the IJT turned the campus into a rightwing stronghold. The state has been complicit in this through successive governments. There has never been a crackdown against the IJT and its members continue to get away with their fascistic tactics. But now a lot of PU students and faculty members are losing patience with the IJT’s goons and have come out against them. This student organisation is responsible for many a crime, murder, theft and lawbreaking.

In a civilised state, student unions are the democratic nurseries of youth. Despite lifting the ban on student unions, this government has not done much to strengthen them, which is why fanatical student organisations are still ruling the roost in colleges and universities. It is time that the PU administration and the Punjab government take strict action against the IJT and make an example of it.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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