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: August 26, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Punjab University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 26, 2021, alleged members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), the student wing of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami, reportedly attacked members of the Progressive Students Collective (PSC) at Punjab University.

PSC members organized a “study circle” about the Taliban’s rise in neighboring Afghanistan. A PSC leader told one news outlet that IJT members had threatened the group soon after the study circle was organized.

Sources indicate that a verbal altercation began when IJT members arrived to stop PSC from holding the study circle. IJT members then reportedly began beating PSC members with sticks and rods. PSC members allege that campus security guards failed to stop the armed IJT members from attacking them. At least two PSC members were injured. An IJT spokesperson at Punjab University denied allegations that his group was involved in the attack.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent and apparently targeted attack on an on-campus student event. State and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. Students and other members of society should also be reminded to refrain from using physical violence in response to expression with which they disagree. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).