IIUI expelled five students for a semester recently and registered FIR against eight students at Sabzi Mandi Police Station and eight others were issued show cause notices and ordered to appear before the varsity disciplinary committee for being “adamant” at offering prayers at a makeshift mosque, which was closed by the management for “security concerns”.
According to the students, on March 24, a sessions court judge had ordered to maintain status quo on the matter. Earlier on January 22, the same court had granted stay to the students.
The students said they have also sent an application to the president of the university requesting him to review the decision on the mosque closure. “He agreed to amicably resolve the issue,” said one of the students.
Background conversation and interaction with students show that the university management has started penalising students who used to offer prayers in the old mosque at one of the entrance gates of the university near Kashmir Highway.
The mosque was built by residents of a small village who used to live in the area before the land was acquired by the university.
In 2008-2009, the students of the university rebuilt the mosque that has a space for over 100 persons. Over 20,000 students are now enrolled at the university, but the campus lacks a proper mosque for Friday prayers.
The varsity has a makeshift mosque for Friday prayer, while plan to construct a spacious mosque is in the pipeline for the past many years. Three years ago the varsity collected Rs1,000 from every student for two semesters but it ended up with only a temporary facility.
The mosque controversy triggered after the university management beefed up security on the campus following the Peshawar school attack in December 16, 2014.
On January 9, 2015 the university issued a notification that Friday prayer will be offered in only one central mosque, apparently addressing the students who were offering their prayers in the old mosque.
The students continued to offer Friday prayers at the mosque and the management called police to control the issue. However, the students remained non-violent.
“But for the last three Fridays the university administration first locked the door and then placed iron bars on the main entrance and last week they put bricks and other material inside the mosque,” said one of the students insisting to offer prayers in the mosque.
The university’s public relations officer, Hairan Khattak told The Express Tribune that government had ordered to beef up security.
“We already have a mosque in the varsity so they can offer prayers there, while the [other] mosque was closed due to security purposes,” he said, adding it was the property of the varsity and they reserved the right to utilise it as per their rules.