A strange situation has arisen in Sindh University where 17 students were charged with five charges of sedition by the Jamshoro Police. The complainant in the FIR, the security head of the campus, claims that the students were chanting slogans against Pakistan, carrying flags of the Jeeay Sindh group and chalking graffiti on the walls of the campus. The accused students disagree with this narrative completely, and claim they were protesting a water shortage on hostel premises – a claim that has been verified by the Vice Chancellor of the university. The VC even went on to state that the students had not raised any anti-Pakistan slogans, nor was the university consulted before this report was filed.

What this tells us is that a security officer has essentially used the report as a means to address his own thinly veiled vendetta against innocent students. If the accused were indeed secessionists, they would hardly change their tune at a moment’s notice. The security official in question has perhaps not realised the very real consequences this could have for the students, not only in terms of jeopardising their education, but also putting their lives and freedom at stake. The claims of the accuser become even more dubious when one realises that the hostels do indeed have a water shortage problem – even the VC attests to all of the facts presented by those accused.

At an age when students should be taught between right and wrong, a security official has taken it upon himself to ensure that the students are punished for a crime they never seemingly committed in the first place, where there might not be any way back for them if the court rules against them. This unprompted action from the security official must not go unpunished. Any individual who seeks to exploit his position of power to put students in an impossible position must be relieved of their duties at once.

The Jamshoro Police must also investigate itself internally; how did they automatically assume that the complainant was telling the truth, without even a shred of evidence or any backing from the university? Surely law enforcement officials must at least pretend to do their due diligence, before filing reports willy-nilly? This story reeks of an agenda on part of the security official, yet the police blindly decided to follow one narrative without even a thought for the impact that this might have on those accused. This heavy-handed treatment of the police is not acceptable. The FIR must be reversed and the security official must be investigated for his part in this whole unsavoury state of affairs.