By Shoaib Durrazai
On 25th April this year, threats to girl’s education in Panjgur started to appear. Masked militants intruded into the class rooms and took the school teachers and students hostage for a while. They looted their mobiles and cash. The private school teachers conducted a press conference outside the office of DC Panjgur and shared their ordeal at the hands of mysterious militant organization. They urged the district administration to take strong action against such enemies of society but their requests fell on deaf ears.
On 31st April, an organization named as Tanzam-ul-Islam furqan distributed pamphlets among the public regarding shutting down of the girl’s private schools. They threatened to kill owners of two renowned educational institutes; Mehmar e Nau High School Panjgur and Optimum English Language centre.
As a reaction to threats, the private schools closed down immediately. On May 13th, schools were reopened and on the same day a terrible incident took place. The school van of Oasis High School was burnt in broad daylight no person was harmed but the message was delivered. As a result, again the schools were closed down in fear.
The teachers and school owners organized a massive rally in Panjgur to protest the closure of schools. Thousands of people participated in the rally and they belonged from every section of society of Panjgur including the local religious clerics. After that a delegation, comprising of owners of schools, went to Quetta to meet with Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch regarding the unfortunate development in Panjgur. The delegation demanded for the arrest of miscreants responsible for attacks on educational institutes and their vehicles. Dr. Malik assured the delegation that fool proof security would be provided to the educational institutes in Panjgur. However, the delegation was not satisfied from the promises made by Chief Minister.
On the ground the security situation further worsened. Cable system in Panjgur was burnt and Tanzeem-ul-Islam Furqan claimed responsibly for the heinous act. The reason that mysterious militant organization cited for destruction of cable system was that the Indian channels were telecasted on cable network.
Dr. Malik visited Panjgur immediately after Eid and met with private schools owners and teachers. After assurances provide by Chief Minister, all the schools were reopened on 4th august. However the fear and panic created due to threats from extremists didn’t die down. The attendance of students in school is at minimal level and school van owners have also refused to carry students to the school in such abnormal conditions.
After two days of reopening of schools in Panjgur, the Boko Haram of the region came to light again. Tanzam-ul-Islam Furqan disseminated the following message through the cell phone network:
خبردار۔ فیصلہ اب ہوچکا ہے، اگر ایک لڑکی کو تہمارے ادارے یا تم کو پڑھاتے دیکھا گیا تو پھر اللہ کی قسم تہمارا قتل کرنا پم پر فرض ہے۔
تنظیم الاسلامی الفرقان
Al Furqan News
Warning: The decision has been made now. If a single female student was seen being taught by you or in your institute then we swear in the name of Allah that it will be obligatory on us to kill you.
Tanzeen ul Islami ul Furqan
Presently, the schools are open but the strength of students is at minimal level. How can parents dare to send their children especially daughters to schools amid the continuous threats made by Boko Haram of the region? The normalcy in education sector can only be restored if strict action is taken against the mysterious militant organization. Providing security or just assuring the schools about safety can’t restore the confidence of people of Panjgur in the schools. Let see whether the government allows Islamist extremists to continue taking education system of Panjgur hostage or it takes concrete steps to exterminate the militant organization once and for all. Based on its track record the chances of the latter are thin.
Published in The Balochistan Point on August 10, 2014.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong to its author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.