Two professors ‘detained by Rangers’ outside press club
KARACHI: A serving faculty member and a retired professor of Karachi University (KU) were taken away from outside the Karachi Press Club reportedly by law-enforcement agencies just before their scheduled press conference on Saturday evening.
A known human rights activist and associate professor at the Applied Chemistry department of Karachi University, Dr Riaz Ahmed, along with Dr Mehar Afroze Murad, a retired professor of KU’s Islamic History department, were picked up when they were heading to the press club to hold a press conference that had been rescheduled after being cancelled a day ago, according to witnesses and teachers.
In reaction to their detention, Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts) demanded immediate release of the KU faculty members. In a statement, the teachers’ association said that in a civilised society everyone had a right to freedom of speech.
A senior police officer requesting anonymity told Dawn that the Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, detained Dr Ahmed and Dr Afroze near the press club.
Witnesses said that the law enforcers were already deployed on routes leading to the KPC, venue of the scheduled press conference, and were seen intercepting and searching the vehicles passing through the area.
They added that when the two teachers appeared there in a car, the law enforcers identified them and took them away.
Later, speaking at a press conference at the KPC, Dr Naveen Haider, associate professor at the KU’s Pakistan Study Centre, said: “We have no political objectives nor are we associated with any political organisation.”
Dr Naveen, accompanied by two other teachers, said their purpose was to demand proper treatment for the 70-year-old ailing professor, Dr Hassan Zafar Arif, on humanitarian grounds.
She said both the teachers, Dr Ahmed and Dr Afroze, were ‘highly respected teachers’ and their detention was equal to a ban on freedom of expression. She said that the two teachers had been ‘missing’ since Saturday afternoon.
Dr Hassan Zafar Arif, former teacher of philosophy at KU, who had joined the MQM-London, was also detained recently when he, along with other party leaders, tried to address a press conference at the same press club.
Speaking to Dawn, Kuts president Dr Shakeel Farooqi said: “We condemn any foreign-sponsored anti-Pakistan politics and will not be dragged into it.
“In a civilised society, right of freedom of speech must be practised and we demand immediate release of the KU faculty members.”
However, he added that those who committed any crime should be brought to justice according to the law.
Dr Ahmed is a member of the executive committee of Kuts, according to a statement of Kuts’ president.
Bail deferred for third time
Meanwhile, an order on the bail applications of Dr Hassan Zafar Arif and others had been deferred for the third time in a case pertaining to a hate speech of the MQM founder.
Dr Arif and Amjad Ullah Khan of the MQM-London, along with some other leaders, have been booked for allegedly facilitating and listening to the MQM founder’s speech in July last year at party headquarters Nine Zero, in which he reportedly intended to outrage religious feelings by criticising the military establishment and asking his workers to extort money from traders.
The suspects, through their counsel, moved bail application in February and after hearing both sides, the ATC-I judge reserved the order for pronouncement. An order on the bail pleas was yet again deferred on Saturday, because the judge was on leave. The matter was later fixed for April