The uproar over public beating of a professor in the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) got deeper on Monday when the rector of the university snatched the mobile phone from a female teacher, accusing her of making his video.
The reports that the rector was behind Thursday’s public beating of a professor at the hands of Brig (retd) Obaidullah Ranjha, gained credence as he reconstituted the inquiry committee excluding a highly respected female civilian teacher, Dr Sohaila, and inducting two retired brigadiers into the committee. Moreover, he turned a deaf ear to the academic staff’s demand of sacking Brig (retd) Ranjha or at least placing him under suspension.
Meanwhile, the academic staff, in defiance of the long-standing restrictions on their legitimate right to form an association, made history on Monday when they constituted the academic staff association to wage a joint and concerted campaign against the brigadier.
The battered professor was being forced into submission by senior government officials, with the Islamabad district administration spending the whole day to locate him and then escort him to a place for handshake with the Brig (retd) Obaidullah Ranjha under TV cameras blitz to mislead the people as if patch-up has been brokered.
The NUML witnessed another disturbing incident Monday when the rector, Brig (retd) Aziz Ahmad Khan, snatched the mobile phone from a lady teacher in the midst of a hurriedly called meeting in the university’s director general office. “Do you want me to resign? Tell me precisely,” the rector said as he was trying to calm down the academic staff without committing any action against Ranjha. The academic staff did not demand his resignation but action against Brig (retd) Ranjha. Brig (retd) Aziz then headed towards a young lady teacher playing game on her mobile. “You’re making my video. I’ll see you,” he threatened as he snatched her mobile phone. The academic staff protested over this dictatorial style.
DG NUML, when contacted to confirm, said he heard something happened but he was out of his office at that time. Shaista, the lady teacher, had her mobile switched off. The rector when contacted refused to say anything on this incident.
No investigation has so far been carried out into Thursday’s incident. Instead, the inquiry committee formed on Friday has been reconstituted. A highly respected professor, Dr. Sohaila, has been dropped from the committee. She has been replaced with two retired brigadiers serving in the NUML – Brig. (retd) Allah Bux and Brig (retd) Siraj Ahmad.
According to informed sources the rector, before reconstituting the inquiry committee, was insisting on transforming it into a fact-finding board. As the head of the committee, Kamran Jahangir who is also DG NUML, refused to preside over such a toothless board with no clear-cut mandate, the rector was forced to rename it as fact finding-inquiry board but he succeeded in including two retired brigadiers in the newly formed committee. The rector refused to comment when The News contacted for his version and merely said: “I don’t know.”
The newly formed academic staff association vowed not only to bring the public beating of their colleague to logical conclusion but also to take up their issues of common interest in future. Although the university has been closed for one week, the association has decided that the academic staff will come daily to hold protests until the basher-brigadier is removed from his position.
The staff association noted with concern the involvement of interior minister Rehman Malik in the matter instead of the education ministry and the presidency. Rehman Malik has been vigorously pursuing the case, though the issue doesn’t fall under his jurisdiction. The Islamabad administration remained busy all day to locate the professor and escort him to some place as desired by the interior minister.
Rehman Malik was not available for comments but deputy commissioner Islamabad said the district administration is bound to do as directed by the interior minister. Asked why the ministry and the city administration were meddling in the affairs that come under the purview of the education ministry, he said only the interior minister could explain this.
By Umer Cheema at The News