THE Lahore police have failed to stop a group of angry Punjab University students from blocking the city’s main arteries, causing commuters and transporters hardship and distress over the past week. Students belonging to Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba have been demanding the reinstatement of a number of fellow students who were rusticated by the vice-chancellor. The latter was forced to take the extreme step after failing to rein in the IJT hoodlums who caused disruptions in normal academic activities on the campus. Backed by the Jamaat-i-Islami, the student group has a long history of resorting to arm-twisting of teachers and the university administration to get its way in the conduct of institutional and extra-curricular affairs. Groups of the student body routinely go around imposing a self-righteous moral code on the campus, often in violation of all rules and regulations; the latest has been the IJT’s bid to get the university administration to dismantle the newly set-up department of musicology. The self-proclaimed guardians of morality are also accused of forcing the staff to manipulate exam dates, alter result cards and allow non-enrolled students to occupy hostel rooms. Thus far the student group’s highhanded tactics were confined to the university campus. But the latest acts of high-handedness witnessed in the vicinity of the PU’s new campus during the last week seem now to be getting out of hand: public transport was attacked and the roads were blocked, causing massive traffic jams that lasted several hours.
All this is more than conduct unbecoming on the part of the errant student organisation, and calls for appropriate action by the university administration and the law enforcement agencies. This must be done to ensure that normal academic activities on campus are not affected, nor roads blocked in protest over matters that are in breach of the law.