We are back in the news, and once again for the wrong reason.
When was the last time we boasted of being the talk of the town for an achievement that could make us proud? None that we can remember. So, the news is that some activists believed to be members of a religious organisation attacked students at Punjab University who were celebrating the Hindu festival of Holi, with the permission of the university administration. Holi, known as the festival of colours, is celebrated at the advent of spring.
As many as 15 Hindu students were injured in the attack. An application has been filed with the police for the registration of a case. The incident went viral on social media, with several videos circulating on Twitter and other platforms. The Indian media picked up the story and did not waste time to malign Pakistan. Several media outlets in India have been running this story.
As per reports, members of the Hindu community and the Sindh Council organized a Holi celebration after getting permission from the university’s administration. As invitations to the event were posted by the students on their Facebook accounts, they started receiving threats, warning them not to organise the event.
The members of the Sindh Council and Hindu community were gathered outside Punjab University Law College to celebrate Holi when armed activists attacked them. Later, the students gathered outside the vice chancellor office but were beaten up by the security guards. A spokesperson for the religious organization has, however, denied their involvement in the attack, claiming that they supported the minority community in celebrating their festivals.
A university official, meanwhile, said action would be taken against those involved in attacking minority community members. But, at the same time, he said the administration had allowed the Hindu community members to celebrate Holi in a hall, but they held the event in the open, which the security guards tried to stop.
He further claimed that the guards did not attack the students but just prevented them from approaching the vice chancellor’s office. Whatever the case, students were attacked within the premises of the university. The attackers can easily be recognized through the various videos circulating on social media.
If they are students of the university, then strict action should be taken against them. And as far as the guards are concerned, it should be investigated why they baton-charged the students who had come to the VC office to submit their grievance. We, as a society, have to realise that Pakistan is a land of diverse ethnicities, religious backgrounds and beliefs.
And, our Constitution allows everyone to practice their beliefs freely.
Minorities are Pakistanis too, and they have all the rights any ordinary Pakistani has. Our elders, be it teachers, religious scholars, or family members – should preach tolerance to the younger generation. We need to give space to all. A tolerant society promotes harmony, and that’s what is desperately needed and what we are lacking.