Prof Dr Javed Iqbal, the vice chancellor of University of Balochistan, has stepped down from his post until the completion of inquiry into the harassment scandal by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), a notification issued by Balochistan governor’s secretariat stated on Sunday.
“On request of the Vice Chancellor, University of Balochistan, that, to let the FIA conduct a fair inquiry into the recent cases of harassment in the university; the Hon’ble Governor Balochistan/Chancellor UoB has accepted stepping down from his responsibilities as VC, UoB till finalisation of the inquiry report of FIA,” the notification stated.
Meanwhile, Professor Dr Mohammad Anwer Panezai has been given the “lookafter charge of the Vice Chancellor” till further orders.
The case had come to light about a month ago when the Balochistan High Court (BHC) directed the FIA to investigate reports of students being harassed at the varsity.
In its probe spanning over several weeks, FIA discovered that male and female students were being harassed through objectionable videos of them. These videos were recorded using at least six cameras that were secretly installed at various spots in the university’s Quetta campus, in addition to the already existing official CCTV cameras.
On Monday, the law enforcement agency had arrested the security branch officer and surveillance in-charge of the university for blackmailing students with the help of immodest video content.
The videos and footage of secretly installed cameras were also recovered from the suspects, which were used for blackmailing the university students. The accused had used these recordings to blackmail students, mostly women, and subjected them to harassment. Several affected girls had also contacted the inquiry officials after the FIA’s investigation of the scam started.
A spokesperson of the Balochistan government had promised stern action against those involved in the harassment scandal and subsequently, the FIA extended the scope of the investigation to 200 employees.
Various student organisations had also staged demonstrations inside university to protest against the on-campus harassment.
The students had marched inside the campus to mount pressure on the authorities to punish the culprits allegedly involved in the harassment of female and male students.
“This is not acceptable; we cannot compromise on our dignity,” Khalid Baloch, the central office-bearer of Baloch Students Organisation had said.
The protesters had lamented that the harassment scandal has severely affected the atmosphere of education in the province in general and at Balochistan University in particular.
They carried placards inscribed with slogans such as “Punish the accused”, “No to harassment”, “We want justice”, etc, during the protest demonstration.
“This harassment had been going on for a long time in the university,” Kabeer Afghan, the central office-bearer of Pashtoonkhwa Students Organisation had said.
The students, chanting slogans against the university administration, had demanded a comprehensive probe into the matter. They had also demanded the removal of the vice chancellor and other high-ups.
Commenting on the issue, then Prof Iqbal had said, “We will cooperate with FIA in exposing the elements involved in the scandal.” He had dispelled the impression that the FIA had made any arrest from the university.