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: December 03, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Punjab University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 3, 2021, a large group of students belonging to the Islamic Jamiat Talaba (IJT) vandalized Punjab University offices and attacked staff members following a clash with another student group.

In the days leading up to December 3, several clashes and disagreements had broken out between IJT and the Punjabi Council, which had put up posters for a cultural event in the university hostels. IJT subsequently put up their own event posters in place of the Punjab Council posters. Tensions then came to a head on December 3 and clashes broke out between the two groups near the university’s main cafeteria. According to Daily Outcome, after the clash, IJT members “ransack[ed] the offices of the vice-chancellor, registrar, and public relations officer” after breaking into the administration block. The registrar told the outlet that the IJT members “attacked the administration officers, harassed them, and chanted slogans against the varsity” and were armed with “sticks, stones, and glass bottles.”

A first information report (FIR) had been launched against 40 IJT members by December 4, but Shafaqna reported that hundreds of students participated in the incident. A university spokesperson stated that it would expel all students involved and that the university had already filed a complaint with the police for vandalism.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence and vandalism against university staff and spaces. Although students have the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they are obligated to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly and to refrain from engaging in actions that threaten campus security. In addition to harm to immediate victims, student violence and vandalism on campus undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.