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BZU inquiry declares girls’ charges false: Sexual harassment case

MULTAN, Aug 24: A two-member sub-committee of the Bahauddin Zakariya University’s syndicate has declared the allegations of sexual harassment by two psychology department students against their teachers false.

A handout issued by the BZU Public Relations Officer Mirza Ejaz Bashir said Hafiza Nasira Saeed and Tanzeela Iram had submitted a complaint to the vice-chancellor on June 13, claiming that when they were caught by the invigilator cheating in the final examination of Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology on May 23, some teachers harassed them while searching for any material.

The vice-chancellor constituted a preliminary inquiry committee, comprising Prof Dr Humaira Arif Dasti, history department chairman, and girls’ hostel warden Dr Zahida Tasawar, which submitted a report on June 17.

The vice-chancellor, according to the handout, went through the report and ordered a fresh inquiry by a high-level committee, chaired by Dr Khwaja Alqama, dean Faculty of Arts (Social Sciences) on June 18. Its other members were: Dr GR Pasha, dean Faculty of Science and Agriculture, Dr Sikandar Hayat, dean Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, and Sahir Khalil, an assistant professor.

They submitted their inquiry report on June 29 to the vice-chancellor who placed the matter before the syndicate — the competent authority to take a final decision.

At the syndicate’s meeting on Aug 16, the report was discussed at length and the members viewed that the inquiry committee had completed all formalities. They, however, resolved to afford an opportunity of personal hearing to the complainants (a statutory demand under section 44 of the Bahauddin Zakariya University Act, 1974).

The house constituted a sub-committee, comprising Justice Muhammad Khalid Alvi, a Lahore High Court judge, and Prof Dr GA Miana, a syndicate member, to afford personal hearing to the complainants and decide the case on behalf of the syndicate.

Subsequently, the sub-committee met on Aug 23 and heard the complainants as well as the alleged teachers — Iram Batool Awan, Ms Hina Hashmi, Ms Muneeza Manzoor Butt and Ms Saima Afzal.

It concluded that the allegations levelled by the students were “false and without any substance”.

It, however, observed that the teachers conducting the examination were required to follow the university rules for dealing with unfair means cases and should not have gone to the extent of cancellation of paper. It allowed the two students to appear in the paper afresh.

The students, while speaking to Dawn, contested the committee’s decision and said it was meant to “please a male teacher whose name has not been placed in the complaint”.

They claimed that they had not been given proper hearing and that they had recorded evidence to prove their allegations. The students plan to go for a press conference on Monday (today).
Source: Dawn

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