ISLAMABAD - Three female students of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) made it to the television headlines on Saturday as a court bailiff recovered them from the university hostel where they were allegedly confined by the administration.
The university administration however denied the charges strongly, arguing the students were expelled from hostel through disciplinary action, but they opted to lock themselves up in hostel rooms and create the mess through electronic media coverage.
Neelum Jehan, Romana and Hiba were allegedly confined by the hostel administration Friday evening with no food and water, and the bailiff recovered them after more than 18 hours of confinement.
Taking notice of the media reports, district and sessions judge Raja Jawad Abbas appointed a court official as bailiff to recover the girls. The bailiff recovered them and produced the girls and a hostel warden before the judge. Later, the judge directed release of hostel warden Shaista, and announced that the girls have the right to take legal action against the administration.
Talking to The Nation, Sher Afzal, counsel for the girls, informed that three girls, including PhD student Neelam Jahan, were locked up in the hostel room as punishment for raising their voice against alleged corruption in hostel mess, lack of facilities and other additional charges by the university administration.
Sher Afzal said these students had been studying in the University since 2007 and there was no complain against them. “Now the administration has just victimised them for raising their voice against the alleged corruption of the administration in hostel mess.” The counsel said that decision of university administration to expel these students was against the principles of justice.
Later in the evening, one of the girls, Neelum Jehan, submitted an application with Sabzi Mandi Police Station against the university officials, including Director General (DG) Gulzar Khawaja, Security Incharge Colonel (r) Amjad Zaman, hostel warden and a security guard. She alleged in her application that university administration tried to kidnap her and detained her in a room for more than 18 hours.
The university administration however rejecting claims of the students, termed the confinement story baseless and a gimmick to gain media attention. IIUI Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai addressing a press conference after the incident charged that fake stories aired on TV channels damaged the repute of the university. Dr Yasinzai condemned what he termed ‘baseless story’ and took serious exception to the news related to the girls.
He said the three girls were involved in a strike in the university premises on December 23, 2013. The university followed the laid out procedures to expel these students from the university hostels against which they were given temporary relief by a court of law. The university honoured the order of the court and allowed them to stay in their rooms, he said. Eventually, their stay was vacated by the court on February 20, 2014.
The Rector further claimed that the management peacefully approached the students to vacate the rooms in the light of the court orders and university got the possession of their seats peacefully. He said today the accused girls created a drama and broke the locks of their rooms illegally and violated the university laws. One of the girls confined herself in a room with the help of other two and started calling media spreading the fabricated news of the habeas corpus.
The issue dates back when the university had streamlined the systems of hostel following the Islamic ideology and parameters of the university. “The university fixed closure time of the hostel after Maghrib prayers (around 5pm) and fixed mess charges that was opposed by a group of students”, explained Dr Nighat Shakoor, provost of female hostels at the university. She said some groups that were tarnishing the reputation of the university opposed new rules and resorted to strike.
The students on December 23 protested against the management. They demanded revival of per meal payment system in the hostels and also opposed the management’s direction to the students to return to the hostels before after Maghrib prayers, saying PhD classes were held till 8pm at the campus.
Three students – Romana Akbar of LLM Law, Neelam Jahan of PhD Law and Hiba Shabbir of BS Economics – who reportedly led the protest and strike and created a law and order situation, were expelled after the hearings of a disciplinary committee headed by the University DG. The committee also asked them to vacate the hostel but they got stay order from the court, said IIUI Administration Director General Gulzar Khawaja.
In the meanwhile, the university administration also moved the court and got vacated the stay. On Friday last, the administration shifted their luggage to the store and locked the rooms. But the students broke the locks and entered the rooms alleging that they were restrained forcefully by the university administration, he maintained.
The students say that the administration had beaten them up and threatened of dire consequences during the last December protests. But the University DG maintained, “They are law students and know everything. How can university confine them against their wishes; instead, we wanted them to vacate the rooms as they are no more students of the university but they have a right to appeal the decision of the disciplinary committee.”
The provost informed that four female hostels house 1,800 students, still the university is unable to meet the rising demand of hostel accommodation due to its segregated campuses and well protected environment. The university attracts students from every nook and corner of the country as well as foreign students.