CHARSADDA - The security guards of Bacha Khan University were untrained while there were no special security arrangements for the scheduled Mushaira on the day, when a group of four militants attacked the university on January 20 last, an inquiry committee said in its report on Thursday.

The government had formed a three-member inquiry committee on attack on the university, which prepared its report and also sent it to the interior ministry, sources said. The committee was headed by Commissioner Peshawar Division Dr Fakhri Alam, while RPO Saeed Wazir and Additional Secretary Education Syed Ghafoor Baig were its members. Its report revealed that only 21 security guards were present on the campus at the time when militants attacked it.

However, it said that the guards were untrained and none of them was either a retired soldier from army or police force.

In addition, all the CCTV cameras had been installed on the premises of the university and there was not a single camera for outside recording of the university, the report said. On the day of the attack, there was a scheduled Mushaira on peace icon Bacha Khan on his 28th death anniversary, and prominent figures were due to attend it, but there were no security arrangements, and the university administration hadn’t contacted police for security of the Mushaira, it added.

Monitoring Desk adds: According to a Voice of America (VOA) report, the BKU attack was preceded by serious security lapses from an administration that ignored concerns raised by its own staff and police, according to sources both in and outside the university. Seven buildings around the BKU campus have security posts on their roofs, but most were not staffed during the January 20 morning attack.

One security official on the campus said guards sometimes leave their rooftop posts and move downstairs during cold weather. However, a fact-finding committee formed by the KP govt learned that some guards were not on duty during the attack, according to an official privy to the committee’s investigation.

The vice chancellor of the university, Fazal Rahim Marwat, denied that any security guards were missing and said most of them were at work in a different campus location when the attack began. The vice chancellor also said the conservative local culture in Charsadda made rooftop security assignments difficult to fill.

“If a guard stands [on the rooftop], the neighbours complain that their privacy is violated,” Marwat said.

An unprotected spot at the rear of the campus, considered vulnerable to intruders, was where militants entered after cutting barbed wire and scaling a wall. The guard assigned to the nearest post had not yet arrived at work; he was shot and wounded by the attackers in the university’s parking lot.

The university’s director of crisis management, Ikram Ullah, said lapse amounted to “serious negligence on the university’s part.” “Once they’re inside the hostel and they’ve caught you unprepared, then what can you do? Nothing,” he said. While no one knew of a direct threat to BKU, several employees spoke about requests to beef up security. Provost Farhad Ali said he had asked twice in early January for heightened security to protect students’ living quarters, “but I did not receive any answer.”

“The Crisis Management Cell made recommendations which are on the record. The university has still not carried out the recommendations,” said Arsala Khan, a former administrative officer and a member of the cell. The recommendations, made last March, included making sure the weapons carried by guards were functional. Several employees, who did not want to be named for fear of losing their jobs, expressed concerns about the quality of weapons and the number of bullets each guard carried.

Other recommendations included having around-the-clock monitoring of cameras and hiring female security guards to search female students or visitors. Until the attack, cameras installed on campus were monitored only during business hours.

However, at the time the campus was stormed by gunmen — just after 9 a.m. January 20 — the cameras were on and being monitored, and someone did push the alarm button. A female guard has yet to be hired as part of the university’s security contingent. Former security chief Muhammad Khushhal Khan, who served in this post until a few weeks before the attack, also wrote several letters to the administration expressing his concerns and requesting additional resources. He did not have much success.

In one letter to local police sent in late December 2015, he requested additional manpower in and around the university, calling the areas surrounding the campus “unsafe” and acknowledging that their own guards were “not well trained” to deal with a serious attack.

Several security officials questioned whether it was possible to find a well-trained person to work for just $3 a day, the approximate daily wage for most university security guards.

In addition to concerns expressed by university staff, local police said they advised the university to tighten security on multiple occasions. They said they sent at least three written notices over the past 15 months, chiding the university for not complying with its security obligations. The university administration blamed a lack of resources for these failures, but some employees wonder if a more serious approach toward security could have saved lives.