Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Holi conundrum: KU forms 3-member committee to probe incident

Retired justice to lead committee, which will submit recommendations within two weeks

(Representational) Hindu community members celebrating Holi in Karachi, on March 6, 2023. — Online
(Representational) Hindu community members celebrating Holi in Karachi, on March 6, 2023. — Online

  • Justice (retd) Hassan Feroz to lead three-member committee.
  • Committee will submit recommendations within two weeks.
  • Students claimed they were stopped from celebrating Holi.

KARACHI: The University of Karachi Wednesday formed a three-member fact-finding committee to investigate the incident of Hindu students being allegedly stopped and beaten from celebrating Holi.

Dean Faculty of Law Justice (retd) Hassan Feroz will be the convener of the committee, while it will include three members — MPA and member of Syndicate of KU's Sadia Javed and Assistant Professor Department of Computer Science Mukesh Kumar.

The committee has been tasked to reach out to the allegedly affected students, while it has been directed to submit its recommendation within two weeks.

The move comes a day after some Hindu students studying at the university alleged that they had been “subjected to violence” and stopped from celebrating Holi by members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) — a student organisation.

Holi is a Hindu spring festival also known as the "festival of colours" and is celebrated by the Hindu community in Pakistan and worldwide with traditional and religious fervour.

The students, who organised the Holi celebration, said they belonged to the Sindhi department, and had been “tortured” for the festivities they had arranged.

“While we were celebrating Holi,” they alleged, “a number of boys from the Jamiat came and stopped us. They beat us and other students.”

A female student, in a video statement, corroborated this statement, saying while she and her classmates had been celebrating Holi, students from the IJT came and “harassed” them and beat up the male students.

In response, an official of the varsity, who wished not to be named, said that no student sought permission for celebrating Holi from the educational institution's authorities.

"No incident of violence against students celebrating Holi was reported to the security office, student advisor, or the campus hospital," the official said, noting that law enforcement agencies have also not reported such an incident.

The IJT, however, claimed that it had nothing to do with the incident.

IJT spokesperson Basiq Naeem told Geo News that the student organisation was not involved in the beating of students. “We respect all religions,” he added.

He also alleged that members of the nationalist organisation wanted to “promote religious hatred through baseless propaganda” and demanded that the university administration conduct a transparent investigation into the matter.

Sindh Universities Minister Ismail Rahu had taken notice of the incident and directed KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi to investigate the matter.