Exclusive Interview with Dr Mahrang Baloch

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The recent blackmailing scandal of female students in Balochistan University at the hands of University administration shocked entire Balochistan. According to the female students, they were harassed and blackmailed with CCTV footage by the university administration. The news has shaken the society and widespread condemnation was observed. Student activists have continuously been protesting against the issue.

One of the leaders of these protests in Dr Mahrang Baloch, a Baloch student. Recently TBP interviewed her to bring more insight about the whole incident for its readers.

Question 1: According to some reports, the harassment of Balochistan University students has continued for years but it has reportedly been brushed under the rug, do you think there is more to the story?

Answer: This is not just a story related to harassment and blackmailing, but under the pretext of depoliticising the university for more than one decade, the students have been exploited and are deprived of their due human rights. Of course, there is more to this story as this is an organized attempt to malign our cultural values, particularly to harm the girls’ education and to further disturb the educational environment of Balochistan University.

In the absence of student unions, the administration and the security personnel have really been using their power to blackmail the students. There was a mafia in university where teachers and other staff members were also involved. Their job was solely to harass the female students sexually. The female students are blackmailed such as on the issues of admissions.

The academic admission for university is given through an entrance test taken by the National Testing Service (NTS), but the test was just an excuse, many of the admissions were given according to the wishes of administration rather than the merit. The mafia has also blackmailed the female students during their exams. Grades in semester results were also the incentives to force the students to indulge in physical relations.

Similarly, funds have been embezzled. Many of the persons were sent to foreign countries illegally to study for PhD, and those who were eligible were ignored and not given any kind of opportunity.

Balochistan University has many unresolved issues. In past many cases were reported but the victims were forced to withdraw their FIRs. None of the government official have taken notice of the complaints that were constantly coming from different departments.

Question 2: One of your demands is restoration of student unions, do you believe this is a step towards the solution?

Answer: The condition of university is worsening since the ban on student unions. When there were student unions immediate actions were taken against the culprits even on minor cases.

The Constitution of Pakistan gives right to form unions. It is the right of every citizen to make peaceful unions that will struggle for their mutual interests, but in Baluchistan student politics has been declared a crime. Treating student politics as a crime negates Pakistan’s own laws.

In Balochistan University there is ban on the student unions and the students are not allowed to hold study circles, but the university administration has made their own students organization by the name of UOBians. The main objective of UOBians is to depoliticise university students and create corrupt environment in Balochistan University. Many of the university administration personals were running the UOBians. They arrange trips to all over Pakistan and mainly female students are chosen as the participants of these trips.

Harassment and blackmailing started after such trips. Once students go to these trips then they never get out of them. That suggests something terrible happens to them in these trips. Such victims advise other students to refrain from becoming part of UOBians due to harassment and blacking there.

Restoration of student unions will not only stop these kinds of criminals to run their mafia but also student unions will make students aware of their surroundings and unite them all that they will never feel alone if these kinds of incidents happen to them. Student unions will raise their voice against such activities and will make the institution a safe place for learning as well as safer environment for student politics.

Question 3: Due to enormous presence of security forces the Balochistan university resembles to a garrison, has this affected the educational environment?

Answer: It has badly affected the educational environment.  When you enter the university many of the security officials will check you and your bags. Every day you face this humiliation at the hands of these security officials.

The university is like a cantonment, full of thousands of security officials. Because of them the students are under mental stress and this has affected their learning process badly.

I have visited many educational institutions of Punjab. Most of the institutions all over the country have their own private security; they are very less in number and cooperative. In Quaid-e-Azam University, Punjab University and etc, one can hardly see any security personnel.

I wonder why such kind of tight security is required only in the educational institutions of Balochistan. We do not have any problem of security elsewhere in the city, then why such a tight security exists in UOB? It is really incomprehensible. Institutions should only have their own private security.

Question 4: Why Baloch teachers and intellectuals are silent about ban on student politics, and what do you think their role should be? 

Answer: I wonder why they are silent in this situation; they should speak. There are two types of Baloch teachers in these conditions. There are those who have their personal interests towards the mafia. They give priority to their own interests rather than to students’ issues.

The second type is of such teachers who have complete awareness of the situation and they want to do something but there have been instances when anyone who talked in favour of students were put on bad books of mafia. The mafia will further threaten them not to speak in favour of students, otherwise they will suffer badly. This mafia has its members in every department so when a teacher speaks about the bad situation of university then all others will jointly make hurdles for them. But I still believe that even in suppression there are several ways to stand against these kinds of malpractices.

With regards to the silence of the Baloch intellectuals I can just say that the Baloch intellectuals are afraid of such unknown forces that can harm them if they speak. But I think that intellectuals around the world have faced such problems, but they have not deviated from their due job of awakening the society against such unethical evil deeds. I think that Baloch intellectuals have to rethink about their due role for social survival, otherwise they will regret for the rest of their life.

Question 5: The absence of a sane voice from any quarter of the society has been strongly observed in Balochistan in last few years, do you think this scandal is going to be the catalyst of a positive change?

Answer: I believe that in entire country and especially in Balochistan a deliberate fear has been developed through the years of injustices and it has made the society stagnant. People are very afraid of saying anything against the major discriminations of society.

There is no freedom of speech. If someone speaks, they are labelled as anti-state and subsequently killed and disappeared. In these conditions, Balochistan University scandal has been termed as catalyst for the whole society. People should realize that their silence will further deteriorate the situation, and many will take advantage of their silence and this will lead to major destructive damage to our society. We will be in a situation where we will not be able to build a society where everyone should get the equal rights to life and grow in peaceful environment.

Question 6: Not much was heard from you since your father Ghaffar Langove’s custodial death, what have you been up to and what are you doing in your personal life?

Answer: After my father’s death, I passed those years in agony. I used to think that I failed to bring my father back from the dungeons. Every day from collage to home I see children holding their father’s hand and during such moments I dearly miss my beloved father. But the last smile upon his face has given me strength.

During our last meeting he asked me to promise him I will get education and educate the Baloch Nation. Therefore, I spend more time in learning. The more I miss him the more I study for the accomplishment of his dreams.

In these years I have silently visited the missing persons’ camp several times. I lost my father but joined the struggle of others for their beloved ones. When someone is released from the dungeons, I feel inner satisfaction. The recent issue of UOB scandal has made me very disturbed as it’s a direct threat to women education. It is time for everyone to speak because our silence has worsened the situation very badly.

Question 7: What in your views is going to resolve the students’ issues in Balochistan?

Answer: In my view, students should be united and active in resolution of their issues and this can be done through the of student unions.

Secondly, they should analyse and debate such problems rationally and their study circles are the venues where they can do this job. Their study circles should be rich in political literature.

Further they should deeply analyse their current national issues. As representatives of youth we should believe in ourselves and should not rely on others for the solution of our problems. Surely there are several problems faced by the students of Baluchistan and they all need to be resolved with such rational course of actions.

Question 8: Do you or the students trust in the current investigation process and do you believe the culprits will be held accountable?

Answer: I have many concerns regarding the current investigations as it is incomplete and is not been conducting in a fair manner. They are asking the victims to come forward and complain without giving them assurance that the culprits will be punished as those culprits who have been caught redhandedly by FIA are still freely working at their respective designations.

On the other hand, the former Vice Chancellor of Balochistan University has been given another job in Punjab University Lahore, when the investigation is still underway. In these conditions, how can the victims trust the investigation conducted by the provincial committee?

Question 9: Any message for the Baloch students and youth?

Answer: Students should participate in student politics and remain in touch with the political literature. If we are politically mature and are able to analyse our conditions through political lenses, then no one would dare to snatch our rights.