SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 28, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Punjab

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 28, 2020, rival student groups reportedly clashed on the campus of the University of Punjab.

Following a discussion in the school’s sociology department, members of the Pakhtun Student Council, which represents ethnic minority Pashtun students, reportedly clashed with members of Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT), a student organization affiliated with a socially conservative, Islamist political party. At around the same time, members of the Pakhtun Student Council reportedly attacked IJT members as they came out of a mosque. It is unclear what sparked the violence between the two groups.

Security guards and police reportedly intervened at both locations to end the violence. At least eight students and ten security guards were reportedly injured as a result.

The university reportedly suspended fourteen students, while police have reportedly opened investigations of several students, searched student dormitories, and arrested ten students.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent clashes on campus. State and university authorities should take reasonable measures to prevent and respond to violence on campus, including by investigating those responsible and promoting open, peaceful dialogue. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine freedom of expression, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.