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‘Not a single death can be permitted’

‘Not a single death can be permitted’

HYDERABAD: The incident of a female student’s suicide at Sindh University’s (SU) girls’ hostel in January still rattles students, parents and society alike. At a hearing in the Sindh High Court on Thursday, advocate Ali Palh, counsel for a group of petitioners, argued that a sense of insecurity still prevailed.

He cited lax security and a lack of reforms in the facilities which ought to be instituted after the suicide as their concern. From external security and canteens inside the hostels to the cases of harassment, Palh claimed that a host of problems still affected students living in the hostel.

After hearing the petitioner’s lawyers, the bench comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Fahim Ahmed Siddiqi ordered the Hyderabad director of women development to ascertain the difficulties of staying at the hostels by reaching out to the students. The official was directed to visit all girls’ hostels at least thrice at different times of the day before presenting the report at the next hearing on September 18.

“… so as to know any circumstance or lacuna which causes or may cause room for harassment as well as other difficulties to the girls,” the order reads. The report will assess how the university deals with harassment complaints.
The Hyderabad DIG was directed to depute a female ASP to assist the director. The provincial ombudsman was also asked to submit a report of harassment complaints filed from SU during the last two years. Jamshoro district police will have to submit a five-year record of the offences or crime committed or reported from SU’s premises.

On January 1, the body of SU’s student was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her hostel room. The police later arrested a young man, Anis Khaskheli, and accused him for blackmailing the deceased which forced her to commit suicide. Khaskheli was subsequently nominated in an FIR under sections 315, 316 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 6/7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and 15, 20, 21 and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

“The death of a single girl or harm to any student, particularly a girl, cannot be permitted,” Justice Panhwar said. The bench ordered SU registrar and provost of the hostels to appear in the court and submit complete details of the number of hostel, students living in the hostel, facilities and security.

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