Rawalpindi - The misinformation about entry of armed terrorists in Government Postgraduate Viqar-un-Nisa College for Women caused stampede and as a result 13 students got injured and three others fainted.
Following the misinformation provided by a security guard, other guards of the college buzzed emergency alarm and the students who were attending their classes at that time started running towards exit gate located near hockey ground.
The administration of Viqar-un-Nisa Noon School, an adjacent institution, also vacated the school following news of terrorist attack on the college.
The misinformation put the entire city and adjoining Islamabad into a state of fear as several other educational institutions were either closed or security was beefed up there to avoid any possible terror attack. Air surveillance of the city was also conducted.
A large number of parents and area residents thronged the main gate of Viqar-un-Nisa College with majority of them wanted to enter the college and search their daughters, sisters and other relatives.
All the law enforcement agencies including Pakistan Army and personnel of intelligence agencies came into action to tackle any attack on the college. The rush of people caused troubles for law enforces.
Interestingly, police came up with contrasting claims over the stampede in the college. Regional Police Officer (RPO) Fakhur Sultan said the police were chasing the robbers when they resorted to indiscriminate fire near the college. “This sent a wave of consternation among the female students, who feared that their alma mater was attacked by armed persons.” The firing continued for almost five minutes, the school administration and the police said.
CPO Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi told media that a car was lifted in front of Brig Dr Iftikhar’s clinic (located opposite to CPO House). He said that police reached Ammar Chowk on information that car was parked there. “A three-member gang after seeing police started running towards Tipu Road,” he said adding that an exchange of fire occurred between police and carjackers near college on which the security guard buzzed emergency alarm.
When contacted, SP Malik Muhammad Iqbal told The Nation, “No firing incident was reported near the college. It was a rumour. No terrorist entered the college. I myself was present on the scene and found nothing,” he said.
RPO Wisal Fakhar Sultan Raja, who was reviewing the security status of schools in Jhelum at the time of incident, ordered the CPO and others to probe into the matter.
On this, Waris Khan police arrested the untrained security guard Obaid-ur-Rehman and shifted him to police station where SP Malik Muhammad Iqbal and SHO Abid Khan grilled him.
The security guard told law-enforcers that he asked the watchman to buzz emergency alarm after a motorcyclist approached him at gate and informed that an armed man was moving towards the college. Police released the security guard of private company after interrogating him and company’s owner Sardar Khan, a retired DSP of Police.
The city’s largest women college was heavily criticised for having only one security guard at its main gate.
According to details, Obaid-ur-Rehman, 19, a resident of Chakwal, was hired by the college from Police Foundation Security Service as security guard, was approached by an unknown motorcyclist at 9:30am on college gate who told him that an armed man was moving towards the college gate. The security guard immediately went to a side room and told three cops and college’s watchman that he had seen a heavily armed terrorist entering inside the college from emergency gate. Following the information, the cops conducted brief search operation while the watchman Chaudhry Umar buzzed the emergency alarm. After buzzing the alarm, the college administration started vacating the college to avoid the attack.
Several college students sustained injuries in a bid to escape by jumping college wall fenced with barbwire along the college’s hockey ground and a little emergency exit gate.
Responding to public calls, the LEAs including Pakistan Army, Elite Force, Quick Response Force, intelligence agencies, local police rushed to the college and carried out a detailed search. After sweeping the whole college, the LEAs declared the college clear.
College Principal Dr Saira Mufti told media that she had sent all the victim students to hospital through Rescue 1122 and Edhi ambulances.
A gigantic traffic block occurred at all the roads leading towards the college. Heart-moving scenes were witnessed as the parents were weeping desperately to know about the whereabouts of their daughters.
“We were at college canteen when we heard sound of security alarm,” said Aiza Sattar, a second year student. She added, “Meanwhile two security guards asked us to take shelter at some safer place. We ran towards hockey ground where a large number of labourers were helping the female students to climb up the wall.” She further said that some were placing chairs along with wall to make it easy for scared girls to go out of the college. She said that her class fellow Shubana sustained injury in her abdomen due to barbed wire during an attempt to jump wall.
“I was washing dishes in kitchen when my neighbour arrived and told me about terrorist attack on the college. I reached the college and started searching my daughter Maria,” said a mother while weeping.
Many other mothers, brothers and fathers were witnessed running desperately in search of their daughters and sisters.
Rescue 1122 and Edhi ambulance service transported the maimed and unconscious students to nearby hospitals for medical treatment.
Acting commissioner/DCO Sajid Zafar Dall, AC Dr Sataish and PML-N ex-MNA Muhammad Hanif Abbsi also visited the college.
A spokesperson of Rescue 1122 said rescue immediately responded to the incident and safely evacuated about 3000 students from the classes and houses situated at backside of the college.
During the panic situation, many students tried to escape the terrorist attack and jumped from the collage wall and got shelter in nearest houses. The college administration closed down the college after the incident.
Educational institutes in Pakistan have been on high alert since the Bacha Khan University attack on January 20. The attack in the university at Charsadda, which killed 21 people, was the second high profile terror attack on a Pakistani educational institute. In December 2014, 132 students were killed when the Army Public School, Peshawar was targeted.