On September 9, 2018, a group of approximately 20 students at Bahauddin Zakaria University (BZU) violently attacked Muhammad Tauseef, a PhD student and assistant professor at BZU’s Faculty of Agriculture Science and Technology.
The perpetrators — reportedly members of a student organization known as the People’s Students Federation (PSF) — attacked Tauseef with clubs outside of his campus hostel; one member of the PSF filmed the incident. Tauseef, a member of the Baloch Students Council, a rival to the PSF, was hospitalized after the attack left him with fractures to his leg and nose. The incident occurred against a backdrop of violent clashes between members of the two groups, with as many as eight students injured and admitted to hospitals the prior week.
After seeing a video of the attack, which was widely circulated over social media, the Punjab Chief Minister the police to take legal action against those responsible. As of this report, authorities have not publicly disclosed information regarding the identities of those responsible, or what action, if any, was taken against them.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack on a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of association. While students have a right to freedom of expression and assembly, they have an obligation to exercise these rights in a nonviolent and responsible manner. State authorities have a responsibility to protect higher education communities and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks responsible. Violence between student groups endangers the wider higher education community and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy.